Page 2051 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 21 June 2005

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There is limited time available to me to comment further. I will look forward to dealing with other matters next week. I am pleased that there are recommendations in relation to asset management. That was an area we discussed at length and a position advocated before the committee by the Canberra Business Council. I am troubled that the Auditor-General’s Office has not received the funding they need to keep this government’s administration under the appropriate level of scrutiny and accountability. I am pleased that the committee has recommended that additional funding which, in fact, was presented and recommended to the Treasurer by the public accounts committee.

There are other issues that should be noted, particularly the recommendation that the government review the stamp duty on commercial conveyances in light of the GST windfall, a position accepted by the committee, not just by the dissenting report provided by Mr Seselja and me. Mr Speaker, I cannot let it be lost that we understand the limited resources under which you are operating here within this Assembly. I am pleased to advise that we have recommended that, within the budget, $129,000 be reallocated to ensure that the staffing needs you have cited or requested are in fact met, in order that the Assembly secretariat can do the job it is charged with.

There are concerns about the way in which estimates were handled. I do not want to labour that issue at the moment. Ms MacDonald, I think to her detriment, spent most of her time having a go at me. I am afraid I am not that rattled by all of that but it was a disappointing performance. I think, though, that the real messages we need to look at here are not those peripheral issues so much as the matter of the way in which the territory’s budget is now heading. It is heading into a difficult situation, which is compounded by overspending.

I understand the factional problems that face the Treasurer in trying to get his colleagues to stop spending money. I understand the difficulties the industrial relations minister has in being unable to secure productivity trade-offs that are anything better—in the words given to the committee—than turning the lights off as power savings when people were given the time off between Christmas and New Year. It is difficult to believe that those words came from officials charged with negotiating sensible working arrangements. I commend our dissenting report for consideration by the Assembly.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.04): I want to speak about the estimates committee process in my capacity as the deputy chair of the committee. I preface my remarks by saying that I will be focussing on the process. I believe that next week we will be talking in some detail about the actual content of the report as it relates to the appropriation bill. I want to mention for Mr Smyth’s benefit that I will refer only to events that occurred in public and are available to everyone through the transcripts. I am certainly not going to talk about deliberative meetings.

People will remember that a couple of months ago—it feels like about three years ago—there was a bit of a debate in this house about my role on the estimates committee and with the benefit of hindsight and experience I want to reflect on some of the issues related to that. I wanted to be on the estimates committee—and I believe this has been borne out by my experience—so as to have the chance to learn about the breadth of government activities. Remember that I am on only a couple of committees—the public accounts committee and the legal affairs committee operating as the scrutiny of bills

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