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

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (29 March) . . Page.. 1182 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

Back in the old days the government would produce its budget and that would be it. There was not the same level of consultation as we have seen since this government came to power. In the last two draft budgets the basic budget has been laid on the table for the committees to see, for members of the community to see and for the general population to see through press reports, even if they did not have a huge interest in it.

The committees have not had a huge amount of time. Let us face it. We do not have a huge amount of time in this place for a lot of things. When you put together a budget, it is a very lengthy process. Mr Wood should appreciate that. He has been involved in putting together budgets. It is not easy. Putting together a draft budget is a mammoth effort. By the time the draft budget we put together hits the table, we have very much gone through a full budget process. Then of course there needs to be further time for community consultation and for the committees to look at it.

I cannot think of anywhere else in Australia-someone might correct me-or of another Westminster democracy where there is such an open process as the process adopted here for the draft budget. People might criticise a few points and say it has some faults, but for openness and engaging people outside this Assembly I cannot think of any other process anywhere in Australia or in the Westminster world where people are able to have that say.

It is somewhat churlish-and I am rather amazed-that members opposite should be so critical of this process. I appreciate that time is limited. Time is limited on committees. It always will be in a small Assembly. But at least the basic process is an incredibly fair one, and I would not particularly like to see us go back to the days when there was limited consultation with people outside the Assembly in the preparation of a budget.

Last year, in the first draft budget we processed, we showed that we were quite able to take heed of some of the good points raised by the committee and some of the points raised by members of the community and put them in the budget. In this case there are some excellent suggestions coming forward which no doubt the government will take up in the budget.

MR KAINE (3.50): The debate obviously has started to widen out somewhat from the document that was tabled by the Chief Minister, in which he was so scathing about the committee consideration of his budget parameters. It is a bit dangerous when a Chief Minister and Treasurer makes statements such as Mr Humphries did about this report and when at the same time his whole budget process is flawed. It is not just a question of whether the parameters are good or bad. The whole budget process is flawed.

Apart from this select committee which the government is now dealing with, all of the committees of this Assembly have over recent weeks dealt with the so-called draft budget for next year. I sat on two of those committees, so my experience was not from just one committee; it was from two. I think that experience has been shared by the other three as well. Without exception, people who came before the committee said, "We have been constrained in our consideration of this budget for two reasons. One is lack of information that was made available to us. The second is the short time period we had to consider it." All members of the committees made the same comment. The Chief Minister and Treasurer has come into this place and criticised the committees when, without exception, the comment from the members of all five standing committees and

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