Page 3921 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 20 September 2017

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Wednesday, 20 September 2017

MADAM SPEAKER (Ms Burch) took the chair at 10 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Leave of absence

Motion (by Mr Gentleman) agreed to:

That leave of absence be granted to Mr Pettersson for today due to illness.

Government Procurement (Financial Integrity) Amendment Bill 2017

Mr Coe, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (10.01): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am very pleased to present the Government Procurement (Financial Integrity) Amendment Bill. This bill is the first step that the opposition is taking in this Assembly in enacting the six integrity measures announced in my budget reply earlier this year. Its purpose is very simple: to improve integrity in government expenditure. This bill seeks to close any possible loopholes which allow the government to avoid scrutiny and perhaps cover up some decisions. Transparency in government spending is essential but, at a time when Canberrans are financially struggling due to massive increases in rates and taxes, fees and fines, it is vital that the public can better scrutinise how their money is being spent.

As foreshadowed in my budget reply, this bill halves the notifiable invoices threshold to $12,500. By publishing the payments made by government agencies, the community can scrutinise how their money is being spent. $12,500 is not an unreasonable or onerous threshold, especially when you consider that the commonwealth has reporting requirements as low as $10,000. The records of the invoices already exist within the present system. Reducing the notifiable invoices threshold to $12,500 only requires reporting for an additional three per cent of invoices. Last year nearly 93 per cent of all invoices were under $12,500.

This bill is not written to be onerous; it is written to strike the right balance between the efficiencies of the public service and the need for improved transparency. This is a relatively minor amendment but has the potential to bring about significant change. The bill also expands on what is included in the notifiable invoice register. Property purchases and reimbursements are not captured by the current legislation, even though millions of dollars have been spent on these in the past. When people pay their

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