Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 7 May 2008) . . Page.. 1530 ..
Stacking is commonplace ... Finally, it is common that the government publishes the budget according to what has been decided by the participatory budgeting process, but does not implement it later. The government files, which are the source of all academic research done so far, would then provide a false picture of success to a system that would in practice not be different from the normal running of a liberal democratic system.
There are mixed views about it around the world. We should always have an open mind as to whether or not we can improve our system. South Africa looked at it; it was looked at back in December 2003. I have not been able to find a later report on whether it actually works in South Africa. But it is around the world: some 200 countries participate. It has made its way into Europe. It is certainly something that we should keep in mind, but in the context that the first and only trial of greater participation in the budget—by a Liberal government, to seek more openness, more input, more accountability—was not perhaps the success that people thought it would be.
I thank Dr Foskey for putting the idea on the table; it is certainly something that we should all keep in mind.
MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (4.21): I listened to Dr Foskey’s presentation with great interest, including the way she described the systems that she observed in her study trip and the various forums that she attended. It reminded me of the forums—although they are not exactly the same—that the government holds in relation to specific topics such as those the Chief Minister mentioned. Housing comes to mind, as well as multicultural affairs, health, and education and training, to name just a few. I agree with Dr Foskey that the key is often the facilitation of these meetings, the resourcing and offering of these opportunities, and particularly providing support to those who may have difficulty in getting involved in any way. I was rather amused by Mr Smyth’s reference to people stacking meetings. That is certainly not something that is possible only on one side of the fence.
The Chief Minister has already outlined the government’s commitment to participatory government. My experience since being elected is that this government is well aware of the need to involve the many facets of the community in its decision making, including decisions around the budget and government policy. I, as members know, do this through the work of my committees and through my regular mobile offices. I conduct these throughout my electorate on Friday nights and on weekends. I have conducted approximately 250 mobile offices and have attended to 2,800 constituency issues over that time. Most of those were resolved satisfactorily. For me, that is what it is about: being out there with the people at an individual level, listening to them and taking action.
I will now address the topic of the discussion by linking some of the recommendations the community has raised in the budget consultation process to those funded in the 2008-09 budget. I have taken this approach because it demonstrates the government’s commitment to this process. Community organisations raised concerns around infrastructure and the economy, health, education, public transport and the sustainability of the city and the community. A number of