Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 6 Hansard (6 June) . . Page.. 1465..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
relied on a prediction for modelling which suggested that, as a result of climate change, it was possible and that Actew and the ACT government should plan on the basis that long-term average inflows might decline to 60 per cent of their long-term average.
The decline in inflows to seven per cent, one would think, did not feature in a long-term average of 60 per cent. But it is conceivable—and one has to be fair to the CSIRO—that there might be inflows as low as 10 per cent. Indeed, we now face the prospect, of course, that it might happen twice. It is now June. Inflows this year are lower than they were last year, and last year was the lowest record of inflows on record.
It is interesting to have the Leader of the Opposition's acknowledgement that the advice that Actew had relied on in some of its predictions in relation to long-term water security to date appears to be at some threat or risk. It is not fair to discount them yet. At this stage in the continuation of this drought, we have not had long enough to suggest that their assessment of a reduction of 60 per cent will not in fact be the long-term average.
The latest advice from the Bureau of Meteorology in relation to weather forecasting and rain for this year continues—at least in the last briefing I had—to suggest that there is a 50 to 55 per cent possibility of above average rain for the rest of this year. That is the most recent advice that I have available to me, and that is now at least a week or two old.
Mr Pratt: So you've got your staff out there doing rain dances, have you, Jon? That's why you need those 22 extra officers?
MR STANHOPE: I think there is no possibility that we should overlook in relation to what we might do to induce an end to the drought. That is the latest advice I have. I cannot predict whether it will rain; I cannot predict whether the drought will break. Just as I did not cause the drought, it is not within my gift to end the drought.
At this stage, it is not possible for me to predict that the drought will end. It may; it may not. All I can say is that I am thankful. If the drought does not break and if we go into extended level 4 restrictions or worse, then I think we will all be grateful that we have the buffer of an anticipated surplus of $103 million. If that does transpire, nobody in this place or in the Canberra community will be sorry that we have a surplus of $103 million.
MS MacDONALD: My question is to Mr Stanhope as Chief Minister in his capacity as the Treasurer. Chief Minister, as we know, you delivered the government's sixth budget yesterday, the first under the new adjusted GFS accounting presentation. I note that the budget delivers a surplus of $103 million in 2007-08. Chief Minister, can you please explain to the Assembly why you called it a prudent budget?
MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms MacDonald for the question. As I previously indicated to members, I was very pleased yesterday to present Labor's sixth budget and its sixth