Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 2 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 317 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
But in recent years there has been a tendency to introduce additional appropriation bills. We are into our third appropriation bill for 2001-02, and it may be that we will have a fourth appropriation bill because there are still some four months of the financial year to run.
So the question is whether that process of additional appropriation should be subject to scrutiny through an estimates committee. In previous Assemblies it was the practice on occasions not to establish additional estimates committees, and generally that decision was made when the bills were urgent or maybe only one or two matters of substance needed to be considered. In such cases the Assembly considered that it was not necessary for the bills to attract an estimates process.
In other cases, matters which have been the subject on public interest have been subject to an estimates process. I would submit, Mr Speaker, that the Appropriation Bill 2001-2002 (No 3) is such a case. A number of items are referred to in this government bill introduced by the government. There is, of course, the establishment of the Office of Sustainability. That was an election commitment. There is some information on this matter in the attached papers, but more information no doubt would be available to an estimates committee.
A number of other items have been flagged for additional expenditure across, it appears, a large proportion of government-in fact, everywhere except the Department of Health and Community Care. I think that members, particularly members who are interested in the direction of the budget, would be interested in seeing what those new items entail-whether they entail significant expenditure and whether the expenditure is appropriate and justified.
Mr Speaker, I hope we can accept that there is a need for reasonable scrutiny. The motion which I have moved is in the same form as previous motions concerning committees. It makes provision for representation by two members of the government, two members of the opposition and each of the members of the crossbenches.
I understood that originally the government proposed that there should be debate on this bill in the March sitting of the Assembly, which is set down to commence on 5 March. I would hope that if there is any urgency involved in the matters which have been put before the house today in this bill, the Treasurer will indicate to the Assembly what that urgency might be, in which case there might be a question of whether we should proceed with such a motion. But I am not aware of any urgency. In the absence of any urgency, I would submit that it is appropriate for this bill to be scrutinised by an estimates process. I commend this motion to the house.
MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections) (10.57): The government has no objection to a select committee on estimates being appointed to look at this appropriation bill. I think that it might tease out some of the reasons why the expenditure is necessary and we are very happy to be involved and associated with that process.