Eastern Victoria

Budget estimates 2017–18

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Budget estimates 2017–18
Ms SHING (Eastern Victoria) (12:26) — I move:
That the Council take note of the report.
In doing so I would like to begin by acknowledging the extensive work undertaken by the secretariat in coordinating hearings, transcripts and a vast number of correspondences and communications with agencies and organisational and department heads. In particular to Dr Caroline Williams, Dr Kathleen Hurley, Mr Alejandro Navarrete, Mr Bill Stent, Dr Jeff Fang, Ms Leah Brohm, Ms Melanie Hondros and Ms Amber Candy, we remain indebted to you for your constant work and patience with the members of the committee in the hearings which took place earlier this year.
In this regard I would like to turn to the 35 recommendations which are set out in this particular report from the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee. Every year we are required to inquire into, consider and report to the Parliament on the annual estimates, receipts and payments or other budget papers and any supplementary estimates or receipts or payments presented to the Assembly and the Council. In doing this we are presenting a 12 chapter report which does comprehensively go through the amounts of output and expenditure within the 2017–18 budget following the hearings which were conducted between 12 May and 2 June with the Premier, the Treasurer, ministers, the parliamentary Presiding Officers and senior departmental officials all appearing before the committee. In this regard Mr Danny Pearson from the other place provided excellent stewardship in relation to keeping the committee on track, as tempted as some members were perhaps to stray into frolics of their own around matters which did not have any relevance to the budget itself.
Mr Davis — Oh, spare us!
Ms SHING — It is unfortunate to hear Mr Davis’s interjection ‘Oh, spare us!’ from the other side of the chamber given that he was not there and given that also there were a number of very key initiatives that were discussed in the course of this particular budget. To that end I would like to just focus very briefly on a number of those initiatives: the $1.9 billion on family violence and the expenditure in implementing all recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence have begun to create the groundswell of momentum for intergenerational change that is so desperately needed for the number one law and order issue that exists in this state; and, again, to look at the 3135 additional police officers that will be deployed across the state to make sure that we remove the boom bust approach to police resourcing and to law enforcement in the state.
It was a pleasure and a privilege to have had Ms Louise Staley from the Assembly fill in for the period that Mr Danny O’Brien, also from the Assembly, was absent from the committee, and we are grateful for her input as part of the committee during that time.
I also want to pay our respects to the late minister, Fiona Richardson, who appeared at the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee and talked at length about the work being undertaken to change the way in which family violence is approached and the preventive and educational initiatives that have been introduced in our communities to make sure that this scourge is wiped out. We owe a debt of gratitude to Ms Richardson. The committee was very grateful to her for her attendance right up until the very end of the hearings in June, when clearly it took an enormous amount of energy and stamina for her to appear at those hearings.
I note also that we did have the benefit of the Presiding Officers appearing at the hearings. It was nice to not have to comply with the direction when the person on her feet at this time was called to order by a witness who had been in the midst of answering a question before cheeky interjections were made. In that sense it is also good to know that the work the Presiding Officers do alongside parliamentary staff — the attendants and the very many people who make sure that this institution functions and functions well, often in difficult circumstances — goes on, and goes on assiduously so that we can maintain the reputation of the Parliament in all that it does.
The recommendations have a lot to commend them. They include measures to improve and increase transparency and accountability in the way in which public funds are clarified for the purposes of expenditure and to make sure that there is greater public confidence in the way in which budget processes are managed for the good of our communities across the board. I note in particular that the recommendations extend in large part to our regional communities. That is a huge part of the work that is being undertaken in policy and regulatory frameworks, and this is reflected in the budget expenditure itself. I would in that regard absolutely recommend the report to the house.