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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 261 ..

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Consultation on 2002-03 budget

Ministerial statement


(Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections) (5.03): Mr Speaker, I ask for leave of the Assembly to make a ministerial statement concerning consultation for the 2002-03 budget.

Leave granted.

MR QUINLAN: The Labor government has undertaken to be open and accountable in government and to genuinely consult with the people of Canberra. The budget is the primary political document of any government and as such requires consideration to be given to those it principally affects.

The budget is the key mechanism by which the government finances its services delivery to the ACT community. In so much as it does this with a limited amount of funds, the budget signals the government's spending priorities.

Labor believes that the government can and should set the budget agenda while, at the same time, whenever possible, encourage the community to offer their input. Previous attempts to introduce a form of community consultation into the draft budget process were set up in a deliberately proscriptive fashion. There is little claim to integrity when consultation is grossly undermined by the protracted politicisation that has featured so prominently in recent years.

Without doubt, the former government's experiment with budget consultation collapsed decisively early this year when the committees were requested to review a so-called draft budget. A contributing factor to the demise of the draft budget was the total absence of financial detail necessary to evaluate the territory's operating position. It was nothing short of farcical.

I emphasise that this Labor government is comfortable with the mandate it has to responsibly manage the budget agenda in respect of service delivery and service prioritisation. This government is not seeking to offload responsibility on this matter to community organisations. However, the government welcomes and seeks input from the public. This government will not treat the consultation process as a political tool but will sincerely and genuinely consider wider community views. We also recognise the desire of Assembly members to be involved in the process as far as is practical.

Therefore, as Treasurer, I formally invite standing committees to participate in the pre-budget community consultation process via a self-referral to each committee. The government will not move to compel Assembly committees to be involved in the consultation process, and we will not dictate terms of reference to each committee. Neither will this government defer the budget process to the Assembly committees. The government will also engage in the consultation process.

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