The Queensland opposition says the Newman government is trying to avoid scrutiny by minimising the days for budget estimate hearings.
Queensland ministers and bureaucrats will be spared a traditional seven-day grilling over how they spend taxpayers’ funds.
Estimates hearings – the one time of the year the opposition holds the government to account on the budget – will be cut from seven to two days under a trial.
Ministers will give evidence concurrently, but will sit for two days instead of one.
The change has sparked claims the Newman government is trying to avoid scrutiny in the lead-up to next year’s election.
But Leader of the House Ray Stevens says the “lazy and over-resourced opposition” now has double the time to question each minister.
“It is a golden opportunity for members of the opposition to find out if there is anything untoward about the budget,” he told parliament.
“The government has paved the way for a far more open, accountable and transparent questioning of the budget.”
Set up in 1994, estimates evolved after recommendations from the Fitzgerald Inquiry into corruption.
Tony Fitzgerald, who recently hit out at Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) and anti-bikie reforms, says his views on the government are widely known.
“The government’s attitude to power and accountability is a matter for voters at the next election,” he told AAP.
Ministers and department heads who give evidence at estimates are compelled to answer honestly.
The opposition’s line of questioning in 2012 helped claim some scalps.
The director-general of Transport Michael Caltabiano was eventually sacked after giving evidence over the hiring of the son of former IT Minister Ros Bates to his department.
Ms Bates herself stood down as minister and has been referred to CMC over the affair.
Media and the opposition, which only has eight MPs in parliament, will be spread thin to comprehensively cover the eight committees which will run simultaneously.
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk wasn’t notified of the change and says the government is ducking in the lead up to next year’s election.
“This is a government that is running scared, that doesn’t want openness and accountability,” she told parliament.
“I think they want to hide not only from opposition, public scrutiny, but media scrutiny as well.”
The reforms were passed by parliament on Wednesday evening.