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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2264 ..



I agree with Mrs Dunne at least on the point that members of the community are the ones who suffer if we are not properly resourced, not only in terms of our capacity to deal with individual constituents, but also in terms of the quality of public policy in the ACT, which obviously has an implication for everybody now and into the future.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Proposed expenditure-part 1.2-ACT Executive, $4,071,000 (payments on behalf of the territory), totalling $4,071,000.


(11.39): I understand that it is under this line for the ACT executive that the Chief Minister's hospitality budget is funded. In questions during the estimates process it was discovered that the amount for the hospitality budget has ballooned from less than $30,000 two years ago to $70,000 this year. Even though I have looked, it is hard to find another budget line that has increased as rapidly as this one.

Spending decisions like the increased allocation for government media advisers breeds cynicism in the community, which sees politicians appearing to be putting themselves ahead of the people they serve. I do understand that the Chief Minister has explained the increase in this budget briefly in the media by saying that it is spent on community events, but we seemed to have lots of community events over the last two years managed by a more modest budget.

I think that $70,000 for cheese and biscuits is a tad excessive for a financial year, given that we have had much debate already about where we should be putting our resources this year. I hope that next year we will see a return to a more modest allocation for stocking the Chief Minister's drinks and cheese and biscuits cabinet.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Proposed expenditure-part 1.3-Auditor-General, $961,000 (net cost of outputs), totalling $961,000.


(Leader of the Opposition) (11.41): Mr Deputy Speaker, as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, I point out that the Auditor-General's budget was brought to the attention of the committee for consideration. We considered the documents presented and did not send it straightaway to the Treasurer for approval, but had discussions with officers of the Auditor-General's Office and with other officers at a round table to discuss some of the issues about this budget.

Of particular concern to members was whether, in terms of audits, the consideration of social and environmental factors was being undertaken. Indeed, there have been a number of audits where it has not been mentioned at all. The committee was told that one officer attended a conference last year, I believe, at which the ability of auditors to take into account social and environmental factors was discussed. With that in mind, the committee asked whether there was a need for more training, whether it was appropriate that all officers of the Auditor-General's Office should receive this sort of training, and how that would be accommodated within the budget.

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