Page 2044 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 21 June 2005

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MS MacDONALD: I move:

That the report be authorised for publication.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

MS MacDONALD: I move:

That the report be noted.

My preface to the select committee’s report on estimates 2005-06 says the following:

The Legislative Assembly for the ACT has had some form of budget estimates committee since the first Assembly. While the form and timing has varied, one thing has remained constant, that is, the intent of the estimates committee as a vehicle for scrutiny of Government revenue and expenditure estimates. With the first majority Government in the ACT this role remains just as important, if not more so.

The true value of the estimates committee is in this scrutiny role. In the scrutiny of Ministers over the course of several weeks, Members of the Legislative Assembly, through the estimates committee hearings, are able to delve into the smallest level of detail in the budget to ensure that the public is receiving value for money in the provision of services. The nature of this scrutiny means that estimates committees tend to focus on matters that they believe are of concern to the community.

This is the first year for some time that a member of the Government has chaired the estimates committee.

It is not the only time that it has happened, but it certainly has not happened in my time in this place. It continues:

As Chair, I was also the only Member of the Committee with previous experience in the Assembly and specifically, as an estimates committee member. Learning the Assembly’s practices in relation to estimates committees is not easy and I appreciate the efforts of my colleagues to participate in proceedings to the best of their abilities.

In any estimates process there is always a tension between the time available to pursue specific matters and allowing all Members to have a cross-section of their concerns raised during hearings. At times this has been difficult given the limited time available with Ministers and the desire of some to pursue considerable time on matters relating to individual constituent concerns.

I was conscious that the practice in the recent past has been to a non-Government Member to Chair the estimates committee, and always kept this in mind while trying to ensure that all Members of the Committee had a reasonable opportunity to question Ministers and officials.

I encourage all Members of the Assembly, the community and the media to engage in a rigorous debate regarding the budget and hope that the Select Committee on Estimates 2005-2006 has contributed to this debate in a productive way.

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