The State Budget Estimates Committee hearings need to be reviewed to ensure their vital accountability role is not subverted by the government of the day, as we saw this week, Greens Leader Kim Booth MP said.
“The Hodgman government reduced this important parliamentary accountability mechanism to a farce this week, with Ministers refusing to provide answers or information requested,” Mr Booth said.
“We were also subjected to the unacceptable circular circus where the Treasurer refused to answer serious questions surrounding the government’s planned wage freeze and savings strategy, instead referring MPs to other Ministers who in turn refused to answer.”
“The Greens are calling for the processes of Budget Estimate Committees to be reviewed, and where appropriate assess models in place in other state parliaments, to ensure our Committees are productive and provide for detailed scrutiny of the management and expenditure of the state’s public finances.”
“Reforms which would make a vast improvement include the capacity for committee members to directly question senior departmental officials, as well as a periodic review later in the year to allow for identified matters of concern to be revisited and updated.”
“It is the responsibility of Parliament to scrutinise the Executive, which includes how it raises and spends public monies.”
“The government cannot legally spend public funds without the approval of Parliament, and the intent of Budget Estimates scrutiny hearings is to ensure that the Parliament does know in detail how that revenue raising and expenditure is going to occur.”
“The Hodgman government denied Parliamentarians that capacity during this week’s Committees.”
“In opposition the Liberals would not have accepted the behaviour they meted out this Estimates week, yet now they are in government they are behaving as if 50 per cent of the vote gives them 100 per cent of power. Not in this democracy it doesn’t.”
“The intent and spirit of Budget Estimates scrutiny hearings needs to be restored. The question is whether this Hodgman government can meet the challenge to allow that to happen,” Mr Booth said.