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Friday, 31 May 1996
Page: 1549

Senator GIBSON (Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer)(2.04 p.m.) —I thank the Greens for producing their questions, to which we will respond as we promised before. To Senator Kernot, can I just say that the last time there was a change in timing it was still the same government so it was still appropriate to have the estimates process.

Senator Kernot —No, the Hawke government in 1983.

Senator GIBSON —Okay, but last time there was a change from the August budget back to the May budget—

Senator Kernot —A change of government is not an excuse.

Senator GIBSON —We did not have access to the bureaucracy to help us do the estimates, but I take your point. There will be an appropriate occasion, as you know, after the budget to run the figures past Senate legislative committees. All senators will have the chance to ask questions of the government then. As senators know, we are going through the budget process now. There is little that the government can say until its budget is finalised on 20 August.