Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 223..
MR QUINLAN: I have the word on that from Mr Humphries. I would like to think that whatever evidence comes forward is a bit more authoritative, not that Lifeline is not authoritative in its opinion, and that it is more statistically and factually based. At this point in time, let me assure you that it is not on our program to reverse that suspension of poker machine operations which parallels the suspension of the serving of alcohol in clubs.
MR HUMPHRIES: I have a supplementary question. If Mr Quinlan does not consider that Lifeline is a sufficient authority on this subject, would he care to discuss the matter with the New South Wales Labor government, which has announced that it is moving towards a six-hour shutdown of poker machine venues in that state?
MR QUINLAN: The answer is that we would be happy to. I will not be doing it this week; we have not actually got to that point. I have, in fact, had some briefings from the Gambling and Racing Commission and have discussed at some length how problem gambling will be redressed, whether we have the right balance between potential research and potential immediate action, and those discussions are still going on. There has been no resolution for change in the process at this stage. We are aware that problem gambling needs to be addressed, but we want to address it in a way that is effective.
Harking back to the three-hour suspension, we got in the last Assembly what I thought was a stream of somewhat tokenistic legislation. It was based on intuition as opposed to fact. I would like to think that what we do in relation to problem gambling is actually effective and has more go than show in it in the future, but that is down the track somewhat in terms of my discussions with the Gambling and Racing Commission, which has some firm opinions which we are talking through.
2000-2001 operating result
MR HARGREAVES: My question is to the Treasurer and it relates to the shadow treasurer, Mr Humphries. This morning on ABC radio, the shadow treasurer said that he was not advised of a probable end-of-year deficit in the ACT as a result of a downturn in the value of the territory's investments. Can the Treasurer please inform the house what advice he has received concerning the value of our investments?
MR QUINLAN: Thank you, Mr Hargreaves. That is an excellent question. Let me start by saying that, immediately this government was sworn in, it received briefings from Treasury. One of them included, under the heading of lower investment returns, the estimate that the negative impact on the 2001-2001 operating result would be a full $63.4 million. What has surprised me is that the election was held on 20 October. The government gave us what I presume were its best estimates of the financial position, at least as late as 2 October, when there were some figures brought down.
I have to say, Mr Deputy Speaker, that I find it astounding that the Treasurer of the time did not know, or did not inquire, as to the possible impact on the bottom line of a possible reduction in the value of our income earnings from investments. It seems to me to be the most improbable of situations, particularly when Mr Humphries was at the time talking about buffers for the budget in terms of $11 million, a reasonably precise number. Not $10 million or $20 million, but $11 million was his idea of a buffer.