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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2652 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

I do not blame any committee for taking either of those approaches; I blame the government because it needed to have provided more framework for what was supposed to be taking place here.

Committees did not know how much was likely to be spent in these areas or whether the government was targeting certain areas, except in very general terms. The budget consultation documents, once delivered, albeit very late, did not really answer those questions either. They just described the general budget parameters in a way which I think was less than helpful. No key dates were provided in the consultation process, little guidance was given on key issues, errors of information were made in the paper itself and assumptions were made about the community's knowledge of different issues, which perhaps were not justified in the circumstances.

As a small digression, the process used in previous years, for all its faults, was far superior. People had the chance of seeing something of what the government was thinking before the documents were produced in their final form, when the budget was delivered.

Going on to the government response, the government notes and makes general reflections on a number of things that have been raised by committees. The response to recommendation No 1, which dealt with submissions made to the Standing Committee on Education, says:

The government has seriously examined the report of the Standing Committee and the submissions received during the course of the committee's inquiry. These valuable contributions were the subject of close scrutiny by the appropriate agencies and have been woven into the budget development process.

To the extent that it tells us anything, it indicates a positive approach by the government-but, frankly, not much more.

The whole picture here is one of considerable lack of clarity and a very general kind of exercise: "We ask you to say something, you hear what we say and then we deliver our budget." I do not think that the community gets much value out of a process as amorphous as that.

There will be endless debate about budget processes in the future, but I simply say to the government that in many respects this process should not be used as a model again and that there are better ways of doing it. It might not be the way the former government did it-Mr Quinlan will tell us he thinks that the former government's exercise was a sham-but, with great respect, it is time for the new government to move on to what it is going to do for itself of a positive nature and tell the community how it will deliver a more meaningful budget process. I think there will be few committee members in this Assembly who think that the exercise used this year has been outstanding.


(Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections) (11.23), in reply: I thank Mr Humphries for his comments. I guess they are pretty standard for the usual set piece that is played. We will accept all of those comments for consideration, but it is important to reflect that a recently elected

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