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

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 276 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

The Australian Democrats have always sought to hold governments accountable to parliaments and, through them, the people. I see these changes to secondary appropriations as watering down the government's responsibilities to keep this Assembly informed of the financial impact of its appropriations. In general, if the government does not know the full impacts of its decisions, it raises questions about whether it should be appropriating at all. For this reason, I am proposing that governments may appropriate additional moneys without complete supplementary budget papers only in the six months after an election. After this time, there should be sufficient financial certainty within departments for the full budgetary details to be published.

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections) (6.00): The government cannot accept this amendment because there may well be occasions when we will want to put forward an appropriation bill and there just is not the time to include all of the information through to the point of producing financial statements. One example that I can think of is the Ansett collapse earlier this year. If there was not the capacity in the budget for the government to have spent the money on Hazelton or Kendell through CTEC, there would have been a need to put forward an appropriation bill in fairly short order, and it would have gone through this house.

Under the Financial Management Act as it will be after this bill is passed, the information would be of the order of the supplementary budget statements that were issued for the immediate passed bill, Appropriation Bill 2001-2002 (No 2). I can assure Mr Humphries that it does conform with the standards being devised by this bill. I think that that gives a fairly clear picture of what is going on without actually trying to produce balance sheets and cash flow statements, with the concomitant catch-up of all the events that have happened outside the particular event that might have precipitated the new appropriation bill.

Another example might be, and this house might be facing it in the near future, some appropriation in relation to insurance, because we are seeing now something of a meltdown in the insurance industry. I have been advised even as late as today that we are facing further problems with insurance company collapse.

The idea behind the structure in this part of the Financial Management Act is to allow full information to be provided, but to be provided in a practical manner. There may be occasions when an appropriation bill will have to be brought through in reasonably quick time. The full information necessary to make the decision will be available, but just not the rehashed statements, which will then be, according to further provisions, produced as soon as practicable. To take a literal legal interpretation of that, I am assuming that if it is practicable to present those statements with the bill, then they have to be produced with the bill. I do not think the government can accept that amendment.

MR HUMPHRIES (Leader of the Opposition) (6.01): Mr Speaker, I think the essence of the amendment which Ms Dundas has brought forward is: "I don't trust the bastards," which it is a very sound principle indeed, as a rule.

Mr Corbell: Are you an exception to the rule?

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