Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 264 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
budget. It was said to us that the timeframe was not going to accommodate that amount of detail being given to a committee.
The committees ended up saying what they wanted where they saw unmet need and where they wanted to see more money spent, and the government made decisions according to their policies, as they had the right to do, and according to that input.
If Mr Quinlan is asking the community to say where they think there is unmet need and where we need to spend more money so that this information will help his government determine how best to spend the funds of the ACT, it does not sound any different to me. He is just not pretending to produce a whole lot of information that we never got. Because we never got it, we had a big fuss at the end with Jacqui Burke and Harold Hird over the definition of a draft budget. For most of us, a draft budget implies draft figures, but there were not draft figures, only the previous year's figures.
Mr Humphries: We had an encyclopaedia compared with what Labor put forward, Kerrie.
MS TUCKER: I do not know what they have done. I am just saying that what you did was no different. Maybe we need to ask the community what they think needs to happen.
MR SMYTH (5.14): It is interesting listening to the comments being thrown around about how poor the previous government's process was, but there has been no acknowledgment that it was a process that was evolving. It was a first for Australia, and I suspect it was a first for any jurisdiction around the world. We asked the people what they wanted. We charged members of the committees to take the information we gave them and to ask the community what they wanted. Some of the committees worked very hard at this and came back with suggestions from the taxpayer on how the government could spend taxpayers' money. My memory is that all but one or two of those suggestions were adopted by the then government.
We had an evolving process, a process that was in its second year and a process that was responsive. In the first year, we were criticised for the amount of work that had been done in producing a full draft budget, because suddenly the committees were overloaded. We were asked to pare it back. In the second year of the process, when we pared it back, we were criticised for not giving the sort of information members wanted. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot be critical of a full process. You cannot be critical of a process that was cut back at the request of the members involved in that process. We as a government were responsive.
The outcome we were getting from the process is what needs to be looked at. The community were able to express what they thought were the pressing needs and where they thought expenditure should go. After all, it was their money that was being expended, and we responded to their suggestions. We responded incredibly well through the then Treasurer in making sure the majority of the initiatives put forward by those committees that made the effort to put forward suggestions were met. In that, we were certainly moving towards something that could have become better and better.