Page 364 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 4 March 2008

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Question resolved in the affirmative.

MS MacDONALD (Brindabella): I move:

That the report be noted.

I will not speak for long. This is a short report with five recommendations which are mainly administrative. There were no major issues with the annual reports in themselves.

Last year, the health and disability committee made a point of focusing on a particular area; we tried to do that again this year because I believe that the annual reports take up a rather lengthy amount of time. The 2006-07 annual reports are the last lot of annual reports that I will be looking at as a member of the Assembly. Future Assembly committees might consider if this is the best way to spend their time—going through annual reports in which pretty much the same questions are asked year in and year out.

Mrs Burke: It’s called scrutiny.

MS MacDONALD: I hear the suggestion that it is scrutiny. I do not deny that it is a form of scrutinising the activities of government departments and the government of the day, but I do not know that it is the best way to do that. I note that the ACT is the only jurisdiction in this country that has annual report hearings. Scrutiny could be achieved in another form. Members can ask questions in question time, which I believe they did after this lot of annual reports came out. They can ask questions on notice. They can seek briefings. The time would be better spent if each of the committees pursued individual inquiries. That is my view on that. Others will not necessarily agree with it, but I believe that that would be a better way to go.

I commend the report to the Assembly.

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (10.35): I thank the chair of the committee for her views on the report that was handed down today. There are five recommendations that members may want to look at; they appear at the start of the report. There are a few things I would like to say on this.

It was brought to my attention that we should have spent more time in regard to matters of health. I know that the chair and the deputy chair wished that they could have taken a different focus this year, as madam chair has just mentioned. She also alluded to the issue of whether it was the best way to spend our time. I put this to members: $801 million is a large budget allocation; there are very many good reasons why we should have spent more than just one hour requesting the minister’s presence. This is not falling on the minister; it is to say that my view was that it was a big budget item. I was outnumbered on that; obviously the majority won. They wanted to focus on disability services, which had 1¼ hours of attention paid to it. Health had an hour. We then had an hour allocated for something like multicultural affairs. Clearly the emphasis and priority did not seem to come to the fore. We had an hour for

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