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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 765..


Mr Stanhope: I am asking for it now.

MR SPEAKER: I will give you leave-

Mr Stanhope: I will respond to the lies that were told now rather than later.

MR SPEAKER: No, thank you. I have said that we will have it at the end of question time, Mr Stanhope. That is the normal procedure. Now, Mr Quinlan, you have a question, I think.

Budget deficit

MR QUINLAN: I do, Mr Speaker. My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, I think it is time to revisit that hoary chestnut of the deficit position you claim to have inherited, the $344 million mislead. I understand that your learned deputy was spruiking the figure on commercial radio yesterday. There is not a lot to be gained by asking him to espouse his financial knowledge or appreciation so I ask you the following question: in the first year of accrual accounting-that was actually 1996-97-there was a reported operating result before abnormal items of a $100 million deficit. This was the middle Carnell year. The $344 million figure that you chant so often arises out of backcast figures for the previous year that I have been informed by the Auditor-General were not subjected to any rigorous audit.

Mr Moore: Is that written down anywhere?

MR QUINLAN: I think it might be in the Hansard of an estimates committee. Does your memory permit you to advise this Assembly as to the main changes that occurred to allow such a significance difference in one year if it did not happen as a result of loading every nasty into the backcasting so as to provide the lowest possible base from which to improve?

Mr Humphries: I did not quite understand that last part of the question. Would you repeat it?

MR QUINLAN: There is a claim that they inherited a $344 million deficit. In the first year of accrual accounting the deficit reported before abnormal items was $100 million. Do you remember, Treasurer, what were the significant changes that brought about that substantial difference in the result?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I thank Mr Quinlan for that question. If he wanted to get a detailed answer to this he would have had to put it on notice rather than ask it without notice. The fact is that, first of all, the figure of $344 million was confirmed by the Auditor-General. Secondly, the abnormal items relating to that year were not of the order to make a difference between $344 million and $100 million.

I do not recall what the figures were, Mr Speaker, but they were nothing like anything of that order. I will get you the figures if you want them, Mr Quinlan, and give them to you later on. I am sure you are well aware of what they are. They were nothing of that order to render a figure of $100 million. That is saying that there were abnormal items totalling $244 million. No, I do not think so.


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