Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 5 Hansard (3 May) . . Page.. 1434..
MR STANHOPE: My supplementary question is: given that the ACTBIS panel's recommendation to approve the Impulse application was subject to a legally binding contract to protect the territory's interests, will the minister reverse the decision previously taken not to provide members with a copy of the contract between the government and the airline and now release that contract for the information of members and the community?
MR SPEAKER: I am not sure that that is a fair question. If the minister does not know what the original arrangement was, you cannot ask him to unequivocally make a statement, I would think. It is hypothetical.
MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I will look at the letter Mr Stanhope has tabled. I will seek the information for him. Based on information, not on supposition, I will come back and answer his question.
Mr Stanhope: I beg your indulgence, Mr Speaker. I am not quite sure whether or not the minister undertook to answer the supplementary question, having regard to what I think was a ruling from you. Could you clarify that for me, please? Is the minister undertaking to answer the supplementary question I asked?
MR SMYTH: I will take both the question and the supplementary question on notice. Quite clearly, I was not the minister at the time. I did not attend the ACTBIS meetings. I will gather that information for the Leader of the Opposition and I will get back to him.
Budget operating results
MRS BURKE: My question is to the Treasurer, Mr Humphries. I refer to a media release put out by Mr Quinlan this morning claiming that Grants Commission figures show that the ACT budget incurred a $138 million deficit in 1995-96 which blew out to $258 million in 1998-99 and has fallen to a $32 million deficit. I recall that Mr Quinlan offered to resign if the government could produce independent verification of an operating loss in 1995-96 of $344 million. Can the Treasurer advise the Assembly what the government's operating results have been since 1995-96?
Mr Stanhope: That is Ted's question.
MR HUMPHRIES: I have saved him a question at question time. In the last hour or so, I have seen this quite extraordinary press release from Mr Quinlan. "ACT Economy Improvement-the true story!" it says in a big box. It publishes a table which comes from the Commonwealth Grants Commission, showing what is supposed to be a standardised result for the ACT for each of six years, beginning with a deficit of $138 million for 1995-96, going up to a deficit of $32 million for 2000-01, the present financial year.
Let me say a few things about this. This press release and the use of those figures demonstrate, I believe, the desperation that is now creeping into the opposition's response to the budget. The operating loss for 1995-96 was, as I have said, $344 million. It improved to $171 million by 1996-97 and to $129 million by 1997-98. It deteriorated to $162 million in 1998-99, and then a strong economic performance led to an