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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 704..


MR QUINLAN: I honestly have to say that I have not made a detailed assessment of what level of debt is acceptable or unacceptable.

Mrs Cross: Deficit.

MR QUINLAN: What I said before the election, I will say now. What this government wishes to do is produce a surplus over time. Over a series of three or four years, there may be a small deficit in one or two years, surpluses in the other and yet a net surplus overall. If all your commitments had been met, then you would have done the right thing.

It is unfortunate that, in this town, there is not a great deal of in-depth analysis of the finances and economics of the ACT. Even at budget time, you do not get a really hard look at it. There just seems to be the simplistic view that if you have an accounting surplus-tick. This is even provided by some genuine experts in the field who, quite obviously, have better things to do-or things that pay them more money-than go into our budgets in depth.

There is a difficulty in communicating beyond plus or minus. I find that unfortunate. As members who were here in the last Assembly will know, I found great difficulty in communicating beyond the simplistic lines which were put out from time to time, which did not, in fact, paint the true picture.

I said before the election, and I will say it now, that the aim of this government will be to provide a surplus over time. Nevertheless, I will not be apoplectic if we produce a deficit every now and then, provided that, overall, in real terms, the net wealth of the territory remains constant or improves.

Housing

MR STEFANIAK: My question is to the Minister for Planning. Minister, I refer to the Canberra Sunday Times of 3 March 2002 and draw your attention to the following comment from the Master Builders Association on the neighbourhood planning program:

Planning delays and regulatory uncertainty cost our members money and those increased costs are inevitably passed on to customers, seriously impacting on housing affordability.

The Master Builders Association was also quoted in the Australian Financial Review of Tuesday, 5 March 2002 as stating that, since the change of government in the ACT, "the program threatens to slow jobs and investment in the territory" and that, in a quote attributed to David Dawes: "What concerns us is the absence of a clearly defined framework within which our industry can operate with certainty."

Isn't it a fact, Minister, that you have engineered a hiatus in the Canberra building industry that is already costing investment and is starting to impact upon jobs? Isn't it true that your policies have already negatively impacted upon housing affordability and that your delays are affecting not only investors but also the mums and dads and their families in small business subcontracting?


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