Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 939 ..
MR QUINLAN (continuing):
Currently the edict from the Chief Minister is that they be completed by 8 September. They must be audited within 30 days and tabled within six sitting days from that point. So it is a very tight schedule.
Officers of the Department of Treasury and the Auditor-General's Office battle every year to get these reports produced, finalised and audited ready for tabling. I would like to avoid encumbering that very tight schedule by additions to annual reports. Without throwing the baby out with the bathwater, the thrust of the amendment is to say that the agencies should report upon recommendations that have been accepted by the government but that they can do that separately so that they do not become embroiled in the audit process.
We support the thrust of the resolution, but in the interests of not making life any harder for officers, who I have now come to understand are working very hard, particularly at that time of the year, I would like to change the motion so that the agencies are required to report before the Assembly rises in any given calendar year. Essentially, that is going to be early December. But my amendment will allow the Assembly to digest the annual reports that come down, possibly to conduct the estimates committees on them and then to receive the reports from agencies on the action they have taken on recommendations put forward by the committees and accepted by the government of the day.
I commend the amendment to the house.
MS TUCKER (4.41): I am not comfortable with supporting this amendment. One of the reasons I thought it was good to have it reported in the annual reports was to have the information in the same body of work as other reporting of the government's work over the year.
If you have a report on the last sitting day of each calendar year, I do not think that would be a time conducive to community understanding of the issues. I do not think it would be a good time if you want to facilitate community involvement and engagement in this issue and understanding of it, because it would be nearly Christmas and that is a bad time to do anything.
MR SPEAKER: Order! We have a separate parliament going on. Could members please withdraw to the lobbies to hold their meetings. It is too difficult for members to speak.
MS TUCKER: It is very important to have it in the annual reports. It gives a status to the committee work, which is what this motion is all about. The public servants involved should be able to do that work when they are doing the annual report work. They have that responsibility to summarise what has happened. They have particular responsibilities when they are providing information for annual reports. This adds to that, but it is an important thing to add. That is why I have moved this motion. I think it reduces the importance of the work by having this separate statement lumped on us at the end of the year. I do not think it is useful suggestion, so I will not be supporting it.