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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 262 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

For those committees that choose to participate in the process, the government resolves to provide to them information they feel they require in order to fulfil their terms of reference.

I emphasise that the decision on referral and participation in the budget consultation process lies with each standing committee. The flexibility afforded by the terms of reference, self-determined, will allow committees sufficient scope to conduct a qualitative assessment on any issues of service delivery within the policy area.

I am not inviting committees to undertake the role of the public accounts committee or to examine the accounts of the territory relevant to their committee policy area. The invitation is for committees to engage with the community and then inform the Assembly what priorities emerge from that process.

The government's budget timetable would require committees to report by 9 April 2002.

This government believes that spending taxpayers' money is exclusively the responsibility of the executive. In this respect we intend to uphold the principles of the Westminster system and reject the politically motivated and flawed draft budget process adopted by the last government, a process which was at the time criticised by other government members.

However, we understand the wish of Assembly members to participate in the consultative process, and we recognise that policy committees may well be a more appropriate forum for community groups to express their opinion. The government hopes that committees will choose to participate. I close by reiterating that the choice is theirs. As Treasurer, I will be writing to committee chairs to invite committees to self-refer and participate in the consultation process.

I present the following paper:

Consultation for the 2002-03 Budget-Ministerial Statement, 13 December 2001.

I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

MR HUMPHRIES (Leader of the Opposition) (5.08): Mr Speaker, I will speak briefly on this matter. Obviously the government has rejected the draft budget process put in place by the former government, and that is their entitlement. The statement made by the Treasurer today is the least detailed, least helpful set of information the Assembly has to date been presented with as far as knowing where the future lies for the process of budget consultation.

I do not mind if the Treasurer or the government has an alternative process to put in place, but I do not know what process they are putting in place. Apparently committees will be able to take part in the budget process, but no mention is made in the statement of what exactly is going to be given to the committees that they do not ask for. What can the committees ask for? Obviously they can ask for nothing to do with what the government is going to do. I take it that no set of proposals or ideas or propositions will be put on the table.

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