Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 11 August 2016) . . Page.. 2828 ..
would say from what I have seen is that both the select committees and the standing committees have adapted to that as best they could and that we have had some good results for the Assembly.
There are certainly some significant appropriations for OLA and its responsibilities and moving forward to the expanded Assembly that starts in literally a matter of weeks. Again, well done to the staff for everything that they have done and I look forward to seeing the fruits of all your labour when we return here, hopefully all of us or most of us at least, in October or November.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (8.12): The Appropriation (Office of the Legislative Assembly) Bill 2016-17 is, I consider, a bit of misnomer because it does not adequately describe the scope or purpose of the bill. It does not just appropriate money for the Office of the Legislative Assembly. It provides funding also for two officers of the Legislative Assembly who are directly funded out of the budget, the Auditor-General and the ACT Electoral Commission. The distinction between the Office of the Legislative Assembly and officers of the Legislative Assembly is an important one that is often easily overlooked. So I suggest that beginning in 2017 the appropriation bill be renamed to the slightly more awkward but certainly more accurate Appropriation (Office of the Legislative Assembly and Officers of the Legislative Assembly) Bill.
Now to matters of greater substance, I thank cabinet, in particular the Treasurer and Treasury officials, for their engagement in the development of this appropriation. It has been a constructive process that has been conducted professionally and with regard to the budget protocols that have been in place between the Assembly and the executive. I also thank the budget committee of cabinet for the opportunity to attend and advocate for the Assembly budget proposals for 2016-17.
However, while the process has been a good one we know from the Treasurer’s statement of reasons provided to the Assembly that neither OLA nor the Auditor-General received the funding that was sought. Following my consultations with the relevant officers and the Standing Committee on Administration and Procedure I sought funding for the Audit Office to enable additional performance audits to be undertaken.
I also sought funding to increase OLA’s administrative and advisory capacity for the next and enlarged Assembly. In my view it is unlikely that the funding included in this bill will be adequate to address the operations an enlarged Assembly might expect of OLA in the medium term. The next Assembly brings a 46 per cent increase in the number of members and staff. That, juxtaposed with the funding this bill provides, creates a risk as to the quality, timeliness and overall adequacy of OLA’s service delivery and advisory functions.
In his statement to the Assembly the Treasurer observed:
The Government … considers that, while the size of the Assembly will increase, this will lead to a better allocation of workload across members, and will not, of itself, increase the amount or complexity of work being undertaken either by the Assembly or the Office of the Legislative Assembly.