Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 10 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 3479 ..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
January and building up the resources to prevent further damage being done in the future. It is interesting that the Treasurer has noted the potential for contingencies to emerge in the future. He very kindly gave to the committee a list of nine. So the Assembly should be aware that there may be a need for a third appropriation bill this financial year to cover some of the contingencies that the Treasurer brought to our attention. I commend the report to the Assembly.
MR HARGREAVES (10.48): I rise to support recommendation No 1 of the report, which is that the bill be passed. Mr Speaker, I would like to make a couple of comments about some of the recommendations. Members may or may not agree with the comments that the chairman of the committee made. I disagree with the view of the majority of the committee that there has been a lack of a strategic overview. In fact, I think that the overview has been sufficient to warrant the supply under this appropriation bill.
One of the things that worry me about comments by committees is to see statements that there was insufficient analysis, that the committee did not get enough information or that it did not get enough supporting data. There is a temptation for some committee members, new and old, to believe that they have to be told about the dots on the back of a fly. You do not necessarily need that kind of information at that level of detail to make decisions at this level. This level is not about micromanaging the executives' job for them; it is about scrutiny.
I agree that there is a balancing act between how much information you need to discharge that responsibility and the temptation to micromanage. However, when it comes to the sort of information that was provided to us in this appropriation bill, I think that the temptation to acquire sufficient information to satisfy some members was, in fact, a thinly veiled attempt at micromanaging particular issues, so I cannot agree with that statement.
One of the issues for me, Mr Speaker, is that it will be a matter of days before the fire season starts this year and this bill provides at least some funds to get on with the job. I take the point that nothing happens overnight and that it takes a certain length of time for certain pieces of equipment to be provided. But if we do not appropriate the money now there will be even further delays. If some of these initiatives will not come off until halfway through the season, I am sorry about that, but they would be further delayed if these funds were not being provided.
The government has been criticised over its handling of the McLeod report. It has been said that the government is not doing enough about it. In one part of the report, the committee says the government has moved on 16 of the recommendations, so there is implied criticism that it has not moved on the rest, yet there was implied criticism and sometimes direct criticism earlier that the government had slavishly accepted the recommendations of Mr McLeod.
Mr Speaker, I think that we should be saying that we accept the McLeod recommendations and get on with it. The reason funding is not being sought for all the recommendations is twofold. The first is that some of the initiatives can be brought off within existing appropriations. The second is that they require a hell of a lot more work than time permits. This seeking of funds actually goes to doing the things that we can get on with and do.