Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 2 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 318 ..
MR QUINLAN (continuing):
Can I just give notice that I expect my colleague Mr Hargreaves to move an amendment to Mr Humphries' motion to reduce the membership of the estimates committee to three members. I rather think that six is a little over the top for a bill which has a $12 million impact on the bottom line. Obviously we will leave that to the house to decide at the end of the day.
I believe that there are a number of matters in this bill that probably could do with public airing and understanding. It is likely that most of the hearings of the estimates committee will take place with the added illumination of at least the preliminary findings of the Commission of Audit that I have implemented. I would be quite happy for this committee to be appointed and go through all of the items that are contained within this appropriation bill.
MR HARGREAVES (10.59): I move:
- Omit 2 (a), (b) and (c), substitute the following
- one member to be nominated by the Government;
- one member to be nominated by the Opposition; and
- one member to be nominated by the ACT Greens and Australian Democrats;
Essentially, we do not have an objection to this matter being referred to an estimates committee. There is a history of having appropriation bills considered by estimates committees. We could have sent the bill off to the Public Accounts Committee for the same sort of consideration, but it is fine if the Assembly wishes to create a select committee to carry out this process. It is the government's view, however, that the membership of the committee as set out in the motion could be changed. It is our view that the membership ought to comprise one member from the government, one member from the opposition and one member from either the Greens or the Democrats.
The Appropriation Bill 2001-2002 (No 3) is not a very large document. It is not as if the whole budget process needs to be scrutinised. I do not foresee that there would need to be the number of public hearings which normally are part of an estimates process. We know the practicalities of that process. They are that members of either side receive their instructions from their generals. So, in a funny kind of sense, the process is not as open as we would all prefer.
The question is whether or not we wish to tie up so many members of the Assembly in such a process. Mr Speaker, any member is entitled to participate in the discussions at the hearings and see the submissions made to any committee of the Assembly. So there is no barrier to everybody in the Assembly, if they so desire, attending any session of a hearing. However, the report of the committee will be compiled by only three people during the deliberative process.
We need to be mindful of the size of the workload that we place upon members in their committee work. For example, I know that the committees which I am involved with have something like five inquiries running at the moment. Two inquiries that I am involved in deal with the budget process. I think that having another estimates process whacked on the top of that might be a little bit much for the mind.