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LET’S MAKE THIS THE LAST BUDGET ESTIMATES
BUDGET estimates have ended for another year which makes it a good time to consider whether the whole process is value for money.
Over the past four days eight Ministers have spent a combined 126.5 hours being quizzed by their parliamentary colleagues on their portfolios. To prepare for this examination literally hundreds of public sector workers have spent long hours preparing briefs – mostly for questions that will never be asked. While it has sometimes been good theatre Tasmanians need to ask whether the information gleaned through this process is worth the total cost of around $2m.
We learned that Tasmanian prisoners consume eggs from Queensland, that Department of Economic Development would prefer their staff eat fruit rather than biscuits and that Brenton Best and Nick McKim aren’t the best of mates. But in difficult economic times is this good use of tax payer’s funds?
“Our political leaders say that budget estimates is a key part of a system that is open and accountable but I disagree,” said CPSU General Secretary Tom Lynch.
“Rather than having four days each year when politicians can ask questions about the operation of government they should be able to ask questions on notice at any time and receive a comprehensive and timely response. That is truly open and accountable government and would be a far more cost effective option,” said Mr Lynch.
In addition to the budget estimates process politicians also get an opportunity to ask questions and place question on notice during the 42 days that parliament sits each year.
“Anyone who has sat through a House of Assembly question time would understand that it is not about asking genuine questions and receiving responses as much as it is about base political point scoring,” said Mr Lynch
“There is no requirement for questions on notice to be responded to efficiently with the oldest question currently on the House of Assembly notice paper being asked on 30 August 2011,” said Mr Lynch.
All other workplaces have been through a process of reform over the past 30 years but our political process has remained largely unchanged.
“It’s time for our political processes to be reviewed and reformed to ensure the people are getting representative and accountable government that is also good value for money,” said Mr Lynch.