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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 11 Hansard (21 October) . . Page.. 3829 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

best outcome for the territory. I understand the concern of the government in relation to these amendments. However, I believe that those issues can be worked through in the interests of best accountability practice for the territory.

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism and Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming) (11.21): I thank Ms Tucker for supporting the government by not supporting the opposition's amendment. It has been claimed that this practice works well in Victoria, so it is a case of "so far, so good". I understand the genesis of this proposal, given the treatment of auditors-general under the former Kennett Liberal government. It is possible that Mr Bracks, when in opposition, introduced such a proposal. I have some doubts about this proposal. This year's budget preparation process was not easy. We effected some changes and we had what I would call late-breaking news. Members would be aware that, right up until the time the budget was sent to the printer, and even beyond, we effected changes. We introduced a bushfire levy and then waived that levy. That goes to show that the budgetary process is a dynamic process. In Victoria there is a decent relationship between Treasury and the Auditor-General. They seem to think that this process works well.

Clearly, the information that the Auditor-General incorporates into the budget is minimal, but it could be more comprehensive if there were a difference of opinion. All businesses and enterprises require audits of the highest of standards. However, we are referring to audits and not necessarily to ideas. I am aware, having been an auditor, that they are not often associated with putting forward ideas. I refer to some of the things referred to earlier by Ms Tucker relating to additional resources. First, I remind the House that we have allocated additional staff to the Office of Sustainability.

Ms Tucker: Not enough.

MR QUINLAN: Is it likely that there will ever be enough, Ms Tucker?

Ms Tucker: More than you have would be helpful.

MR QUINLAN: If we provided too many staff it still might not be enough. We have allocated additional resources to the Office of Sustainability. Treasury will be working with the Office of Sustainability. As I am expected to set an example and be abstemious in the budgetary process, I will ensure that I have the resources available to incorporate within the existing budgetary framework-and in the framework that will exist beyond the review I have asked Treasury to undertake-triple bottom-line reporting in the form and presentation of the budget, key performance indicators and the suitability of the reporting method that follows.

Members can therefore anticipate this government's best attempts at bringing forward more usable and informative budgets and reports. After listening to a number of debates I do not know how the words or opinions of the Auditor-General can somehow be set in stone as the absolute truth, unable to be challenged. That will not be the case when we are preparing budgets. If we happen to have an Auditor-General who is somewhat opinionated it could result in a distortion of the public debate that goes with the budgetary process. At present there is plenty of public debate and the budgetary process is scrutinised. Members should be aware that Treasury, the Treasurer and the

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