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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2991 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

territory's needs. The government has also more cohesively incorporated the new requirements into the existing provisions of the Financial Management Act.

Although many of the financial management practices included in both the government's and the opposition's bill are already being performed, there is no legislative requirement for them to be done. It is considered prudent that these practices be included in the Financial Management Act.

Mr Speaker, similar to the opposition bill, the government enshrines in legislation the requirement for a financial policy and strategies statement to be included in the territory's budget. This statement outlines the government's financial strategies and establishes benchmarks for evaluating the government's conduct of financial policy.

Other current territory budget practices to be legislatively mandated are the requirements for a statement of economic or other assumptions, a statement of sensitivity of the budget estimates to changes in the economic or other assumptions, and a statement of risks.

This bill also introduces a requirement for a mid-year budget review, to be presented to the Assembly 45 days after the end of the calendar year. This review will provide to the Legislative Assembly updated budget estimates to take account of any changed circumstances since the preparation of the original budget. It will include an estimated end of financial year position for the general government sector, as well as updated budget estimates for the next three financial years. A review of the financial policy objectives and strategies statement will also be included in the mid-year report. The proposed timing will align presentation of this information to the Legislative Assembly with the quarterly financial statements.

Mr Speaker, a key provision included in integrity charters used in other Australian jurisdictions is the requirement for a pre-election budget update. This bill requires updated budget estimates to be made available for the territory, general government sector and public trading enterprises at least 30 days before the polling day for an ordinary election.

A new government initiative contained in this bill is a requirement for audited territory annual financial statements to be completed within three months after the end of the financial year if an ordinary election is being held in that year. This initiative ensures that audited financial statements are available prior to polling day.

I trust that members will support this bill as it will improve transparency and accountability. This bill is considered to be an appropriate means for the territory to address the principles contained in other jurisdictions' charters of budget honesty and financial responsibility and ensures that the ACT is once again at the forefront of financial management. Mr Speaker, I commend the bill to the Assembly.

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

Health-Standing Committee

Report No 4

Debate resumed from 8 May 2003, on motion by Ms Tucker:

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