Page 1505 - Week 04 - Thursday, 25 March 2010
item—it was there last year—relates to email allocations for non-executive members’ staff. There are still issues with this. Offers were made to some staff that they could have higher allocations but not to all staff and not all staff who were eligible took it up. So we would like to see this improved.
Finally, as I noted at the beginning, I would like to thank my fellow members and the committee secretariat for their support. I would like to highlight again the unanimity of our views that ESD reporting is important. It needs to be done better and it needs to move from the realm of reporting into the realm of action. I think it is great that we have unanimity among the three parties that this is needed.
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (11.51): I will also commence by thanking the staff from the secretariat who helped us put this report together. It is quite a detailed report, with more than 30 recommendations. It covered a vast array of organisations over a huge period of time. I particularly thank Mr Glenn Ryall, who is sitting quietly up in the gallery. This will be Glenn’s last report; his sojourn with us is about to finish and he will go back to the Senate. He has been standing in for the permanent secretary to the committee, and I would personally like to thank Glenn for all his efforts and the approach that he has brought. He has his own inimitable style. He is to be congratulated for it. And Ms Samara Henriksen, who is the senior research officer in the secretariat, was very good in the way that she approached the task and clearly has settled in well to the committee secretariat.
As the chair has said, it does cover a huge array of areas. I will concentrate on only a couple of them. I would draw recommendations 1 and 2 to the attention of the Assembly. They refer to the perennial problem of the government answering questions. When he first got onto the government benches, we had a commitment from the Chief Minister that they were going to be more honest, more open, more accountable. Yet committees constantly struggle to get answers to questions. It is impossible to write an informed report and come up with reasonable recommendations if you have not got the answers.
I understand that it is a problem for all committees, whether it be estimates or down through the standing committees. But it is time that this issue was resolved. I refer members to the last sentence of paragraph 1.6:
The Committee Chair will, however, raise this matter at the next Chairs’ Committee meeting.
It is time that we came up with an approach. It is not unreasonable to ask questions and expect answers so that you can write a reasonable report. It is about time we resolved that issue.
I always have a comment about style in the annual reports. This year the shocker award goes to the Actew annual report. It appears to have been done by three or four different sections of Actew. The numbers do not even run from 1 to 100: they recommence; they start; they disappear. It is very hard to follow the Actew report this year. When preparing annual reports, consistency in formatting should be applied to all, but this year the Actew report in particular was very poor.