Page 5103 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 17 November 2009

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indicators such as net worth, net financial liabilities and net debt. I commend the report to the Assembly.

Administration and Procedure—Standing Committee

Report 1—government response

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Health and Minister for Industrial Relations) (3.06): For the information of members, I present the following paper:

Administration and Procedure—Standing Committee—Report 1—The Merit of Appointing a Parliamentary Budget Officer—Government response, dated November 2009.

I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

The Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure’s report was presented to the Assembly on 20 August 2009. A fundamental principle of democracy is to ensure accountability of the executive to the legislature in relation to its activities. Continued scrutiny of the executive by the legislature leads to improved policy outcomes.

The budget is a fundamental document in the government’s process for any executive. A budget is a multifaceted document read by a wide constituency laying out the social, economic and fiscal values of the government. The government believes strongly in these fundamental principles of democracy and governance, and for these reasons supports the measures taken by the Assembly to enhance its capacity to scrutinise the government’s budget.

The government would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the committee on the report and broadly supports the recommendations made by the committee. We support the first and second recommendations on appointing an expert consultant to assist the Select Committee on Estimates to scrutinise the ACT budget papers and outlining the role of such an individual in providing independent economic and financial analysis of the ACT budget, as well as assisting with the provision of advice on the technical aspects of the budget papers.

This is a logical and cost-effective approach to expanding the knowledge and skills of the committee to effectively scrutinise ACT budget papers. It follows the precedent established during the estimates hearing for the 2009-10 budget, which saw the appointment of Mr Tony Harris, a highly respected practitioner and commentator in public sector finances, by the Assembly to examine the 2009-10 ACT budget and to provide advice to the estimates committee.

The government does not agree with aspects of the third recommendation. Staffing of the committees in the Assembly is a matter for the Assembly. In this regard, there should be no restraint placed on the recruitment of additional resources to assist the appointed consultant if the Speaker desires that that be the case.

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