Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (29 March) . . Page.. 1177 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

quality of Assembly committee reports. Their usefulness to the community, to government, to public servants, whoever, in making decisions about some matters, in taking forward action on some matters, is very limited indeed.

I do not think that any of us want to see Assembly committee reports gather a reputation for being no more than vehicles for people to throw up political vituperation. We want to see them produce something of value. We want to see them contribute to the sum of our knowledge about these things. This report does not do that.

MR QUINLAN (3.27): I have heard some humbug in my time. Let me take the last point the Chief Minister made about the importance of the committee system and committee reports. I want to respond to that by reference to the inquiry that the Finance and Public Administration Committee ran into the introduction of the purchaser/provider model in the ACT. That was an inquiry that committee took very seriously. It was a serious referral to the committee, not like this particular set-up, which is all about the draft budget sham that has been perpetrated over the last couple of years. That committee report was virtually totally ignored by this government. I think that is a more eloquent commentary on the workings of the committee system here. The Chief Minister, through this draft budget process-we all know what it is about-is at the centre of the abuse of the committee system in this place.

Before I go much further, I have to apologise for the fact that I am on my feet. The chairman of this committee, Mr Osborne, is not in the chamber at the moment, so I thought I would make a few comments. I was neither chairman nor deputy chairman. I made my minor contribution, and I hope my minor contribution did shine through amongst the contributions of other members.

Let me relate a couple of incidents in the committee. Mr Humphries asked why he was not asked about something in the committee hearing yet the committee put it in its report. I do not know why that necessarily has to follow. I asked him how he reconciled the projected deficit in the briefing that we got for this committee with the economic performance of the previous financial year, because we had quite a substantial declared surplus for the last completed financial year. Did we get an answer to that? No. This man went out and produced a press release and changed the bottom line. Get to the public first. Do not be embarrassed by having to come back to the committee and say, "Whoops, there is a revision here and the committee is responsible for educing that information from the government." The Chief Minister was straight out with a press release. Do not talk about abusing the committee process, Mr Humphries. That would be the ultimate in hypocrisy.

In the committee, in my share of questions, I asked whether we could have an idea of the sensitivity of the budget to various changes like changes in interest rates or changes in economic performance measures. Guess what? They had to go and do it. So this committee has performed a couple of services already. We precipitated a whole rolling sequence of new bottom lines. The projected line for the current financial year went from a surplus of $4 million up to $35.5 million, then back to $6 million. Then the Chief Minister went on leave and left the Deputy Chief Minister in charge. It went back to $4 million, and on we go. This committee performed the service of goading this Treasurer into action and looking at the books.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .