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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2651 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

enhancement of the exercise involving community consultation. The Assembly committees that looked at these issues, perhaps as a result of a lack of framework or direction, took vastly diverse approaches to confronting their task.

Going back one step for a moment, the government mentions, in its introduction to its response to the standing committee reports, that there was an exercise in the government directly receiving submissions from the community about the budget. It mentions that a letter was sent by the Treasurer inviting community and business groups to provide input to the budget priorities; that there were 33 submissions received by the government itself from community, business, sport, union and environmental groups; and it mentions that some of these organisation also made comments-sometimes the same comments-to Assembly committees.

Obviously, the comments that were made directly to the government are not on the public record. We can only assume that people made these comments, where they sent them to both bodies, in similar terms. In regard to those who did not make comments to Assembly committees, we do not know what they said or how what they said dovetails with what was being discussed or considered by committees of the Assembly.

What does not appear to be part of this process are systematic, face-to-face meetings with the organisations concerned. It was a practice for a number of years in the Follett government to both invite submissions from members of the community and have a round of meetings. As I recall it-you would know, Mr Speaker; you were in that government-it was the practice of the government to have meetings with those who made submissions and discuss what the issues would be and what kinds of things people expected from the budget for that year.

For a period, after 1995, the Liberal government also engaged in that practice. It changed that later on, as a different exercise was undertaken. Nonetheless, that occurred. As far as I can see, that has not occurred in this exercise. The Treasurer might indicate whether that is not the case but, as far as I could see, there was simply the receiving of written documents and then the receiving of reports from the standing committees. That was the basis on which decisions were made.

Perhaps as a result of the lack of framework or structure, a total of over $53 million in funding requests was made by organisations in their submissions to government. Although no-one has produced a figure, I dare say that only a small fraction of those requests was satisfied by way of promises or commitments delivered in the budget itself.

The very lateness of the government's consultation documents, written for the benefit of the committees, plus the lack of any structure before that point led to a quite diverse range of approaches on the part of the standing committees. Some of the standing committees made substantive judgments about the submissions that were put before them in the way of documents and the submissions made orally to particular committees. They examined them and gave credence to particular claims. Other committees, quite frankly, simply operated as a postbox, saying that the government should consider seriously all the submissions that were made to them.

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