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Tasmanian Public Finance Corporation Amendment Bill 2023

Vica Bayley MP

Vica Bayley MP  -  Tuesday, 5 September 2023

Tags: TASCORP, Legislation

Mr BAYLEY (Clark) - Mr Speaker, I am pleased to make a contribution on behalf of the Greens to debate on the Tasmanian Public Finance Corporation Amendment Bill. The Greens are inclined to support this bill but we do have a number of concerns more broadly around TASCORP and the function of GBEs and a number of questions we are hopeful that the Treasurer can answer.

Of particular interest to ask is the commitment for reporting on the individual guarantee arrangements in the Treasurer's Annual Financial Report. As we understand it, not all of the guarantee limits under current arrangements are necessarily reported. As far as we can tell, active loans subject to guarantee are reported in the Treasurer's Annual Financial Report but not the details proposed to be reported subsequent to this proposed process.

We also note that additional entries can also be added by the Treasurer if they are gazetted and that proposed new section 24(2) means that such a proposition, despite being an order and not a regulation, would be a disallowable instrument. We also consider that the proposed more formal process encouraging active review of guarantee limits and related matters for each entity would provide for improved governance. That being said, we note that many of the matters referred to in the second reading, including the proposed inclusion of details in the Treasurer's Annual Financial Report, relevant annual reports and annual review of these limits, are not stipulated in the bill. Instead, the bill only provides that the details are to be determined by the Treasurer.

Why are these matters not outlined in the bill? It would seem to be a relatively straightforward matter to set out in legislation. While we take the current Treasurer's intention at face value to transparently report on these limits, there is nothing to ensure that a future Treasurer also follows this procedure. As such, and as flagged by the member for Braddon, we have an amendment we will take forward here. The amendment we will be moving is to insert a new Part into the bill to amend section 42 of the Financial Management Act 2016 to make reporting a requirement committed to by the Treasurer a statutory requirement.

We also have something of an incidental question in relation to TasWater. We note that TasWater is not proposed to be covered by this guarantee. We question why it is not included. When doing research on the bill we were also interested to note that the revisions in the Water and Sewage Corporation Act 2012, specifically section 26, allows for councils to provide a guarantee or indemnity for TasWater, but not the state. This is somewhat out of scope of the bill before us but I am curious about the Government's broader position on this matter. If the Treasurer is able to advise whether a guarantee can be provided to TasWater by the Government through another mechanism that would be appreciated.

As I say, we are inclined to support this. We maintain ongoing concerns about TASCORP and the ability of government entities racking up unsustainable loan arrangements and at times funding unsustainable activities, but in general, subject to the amendment we have floated here today, we see this amendment bill as generally improving transparency and reporting and we will support it.