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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 4206 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

Also taken from the Auditor-General's report is the setting of a limit on the time contracts are kept available. Currently, the principal act has no time limit. In order to comply with the act, contracts must be available for a period of three years. This is a direct suggestion from the Auditor-General.

The third element of this bill is taking the principle of public access to government contracts and applying it to tender documents that win contracts of over $50,000. This, I believe, is one of the most significant accountability reforms to occur since the principal act was passed two years ago.

When dealing with the business sector or the community sector, I often hear from people who have been unsuccessful in their bid for a government tender. They accuse the winning tenderer, the government or the public service of favouritism, nepotism or preferred treatment due to some other unmeritorious factor.

The current trend is to contract out many of the traditional government services. From housing to rubbish collection, from park care to laundry services, the list goes on and on. Each of these services is usually put to tender and the winning tender gets the contract. But under current legislation, only the final contract is made public, and rumours and innuendo about uncompetitive behaviour flourish.

This legislation will make the documents of the winning tender publicly available, so that the public and community know what should be delivered, what the time frames are and what to expect-in short, what the government would have been looking for when it put the tender out and awarded the contract. The tender documents will be screened and commercially confidential information removed, similarly to what already applies to government contracts.

In summary, this bill will correct some of the faults of the current act, bringing the ACT government and the ACT community to the forefront in the field of open and accountable governance.

I commend the bill to the house.

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

Costing of Election Commitments Bill 2002

Mr Humphries , pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.

MR HUMPHRIES (10.45): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

It can be said that the ACT is in the vanguard of public accountability and performance reporting mechanisms within the Australian context. We generally have the best such legislation in Australia and the best such practices in Australia. Over a number of years we have built up a rhythm of developing legislation which is groundbreaking.

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