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Estimates Hearings are one of only a few checks and balances for Queensland's Unicameral Parliament

The 2018-19 ‘Estimates Hearings’ for the Queensland Legislative Assembly commences today and runs for the next two weeks.  These are one of only a few checks and balances that the Sunshine State’s unicameral Parliament has to hold the State Government to account.

The estimates process helps the Legislative Assembly to scrutinise the Government’s proposed expenditure in the State Budget for both the previous year and year ahead. Since 1994, the Parliamentary Committees (seven of them please see below) have undertaken the estimates process. 

The Minister and the Director General / CEO of the relevant Department or Authority must attend the Committee’s hearings and are questioned directly by Committee Members and other sitting Members regarding the proposed expenditures for their relevant portfolio areas.

Members of the Committee are allowed a wide scope in their questions ranging from items of detail to broad policy matters.

When the Committee hearings are completed, the Members meet to discuss the information gained and compile a final report which is then tabled and debated in Parliament.

This is in theory is a great opportunity to get to the detail that is often glossed over by Government Ministers and their spin doctors.  My sincere hope is that this year's hearings are marked with substance and not the games that have unfortunately occurred in recent years that have obfuscated the truth coming to light.  Time will tell. 

Update 1.30 pm 31 July 2018:

Unfortunately it appears my concerns over this process were well founded ….. Respected ABC Journalist Chris O'Brien writes:

The constant use of standing orders against questions containing arguments, imputations, opinions or hypothetical matters was the worst since the estimates process began in 1994, according to long time observers.

Analysis by the ABC showed 20 out of 32 non-government questions to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on the first day of hearings were hindered by government members trying to block or weaken the attack.

Rather than a free-flowing examination of the Premier's performance, there was constant interference from Labor committee members challenging, disrupting or ruling questions out of order.

Independent observers calculated that of the 89 minutes given to non-government MPs in the session, 39 minutes were lost to interruptions.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-31/qld-budget-estimates-ran-like-protection-racket-expert-says/10029036

 

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