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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2650 ..

Planning and Environment-Standing Committee

Report No 4

Debate resumed from 14 May 2002, on motion by Mrs Dunne:

That the report be noted.

Debate (on motion by Mr Corbell ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Budget consultation

Reports of standing committees-government response

Debate resumed from 25 June 2002, on motion by Mr Quinlan:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

MR HUMPHRIES (Leader of the Opposition) (11.13): Mr Speaker, the government response to the budget consultation reports of the various standing committees, together with the Estimates Committee report, which was tabled on Tuesday this week, in a sense brings to a close the process of the development of the budget. The exercise that went on before the budget was handed down is now substantially completed. The only work that remains for the Assembly to do is to consider and pass the budget-next week, presumably. Therefore, it is appropriate at this juncture to comment on how effective that process has been.

In the election campaign last year, the then opposition-now government-was highly critical about the budget consultation exercises that had been undertaken by the former Liberal government. It made lots of comments, and it promised an improved consultation process. A "real" consultation process was promised as part of this exercise.

What has resulted, to be quite frank, is less than satisfactory. It is an exercise that could in no way be regarded as an opportunity for people to sit down with the government with any sense of equality or partnership and attempt to develop the sort of document that the budget will be. This was most conspicuous in the way the budget consultation documents were produced for the standing committees that looked into these matters. The Estimates Committee made a quite pointed comment about that. I quote:

The Chief Minister was asked about the budget consultation process, but avoided responding directly to the question. The Committee is of the opinion, however, that the budget consultation documents were issued so late in the consultation process that little real consultation could have taken place. The Committee also notes comments to a similar effect by a number of the Legislative Assembly's Standing Committees. The Committee is concerned that a pattern appears to be forming in that documents relating to the budget are being produced late. The Committee also found problems in the fact that community groups appeared only in the later stages of the public hearings, which meant that there was little opportunity for the issues they raised to be put to the relevant Ministers.

The recommendation was made there that community groups be heard early in the process in future estimates exercises. That, however, is not the point. I think it remains the case that all involved in the exercise took the view that there needs to be some

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