Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 6 Hansard (7 June) . . Page.. 1574..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
His surplus is a phoney one. It excludes expected long-term capital gains from superannuation investments of some $90 million. But the Chief Minister has failed to adequately explain that these funds are not part of the government's taxing and spending program. Their inclusion in the budget conveys, no matter how he might try to now dress it up, a false picture of the impact of the government's activities on the economy. Moreover, that $90 million does not belong to the government. It belongs to the public service superannuants. And it is an entitlement that goes to public servants when they retire. You cannot spend it because it does not belong to the government.
I would hope the Chief Minister actually does agree with this and makes it quite clear now and quite clear to all our public servants that he does not intend to spend their superannuation money. The money is in the budget and it is not there for him to spend. If that $90 million is not revenue available for spending, then it should not be included as so-called revenue to give the budget a headline surplus of $103 million. The Chief Minister can laugh as much as he likes, but that is how your budget has been trumpeted. That is how it has been trumpeted.
The actual surplus, as you now belatedly say, is in fact only $13.5 million. You knew that and in 2001 when you were Leader of the Opposition that was, in fact, one of the papers that was put out by you then. In referring to the recommendations of Mr Quinlan's superannuation committee, you spoke approvingly of the recommendations to quarantine superannuation money against use for any other purpose. You said that it should be quarantined for use against any other purpose. You have not made it clear. Clearly, that means that superannuation money, including the yields on the super investments, cannot form a part of the budget funds available for general spending and should not be classified as revenue.
Your presentation, despite how you might put it, is misleading. Indeed, it should be corrected because the only credible bottom line is in appendix F of budget paper 3, which is required by all state governments, the commonwealth, the ABS and the International Monetary Fund as a fair, consistent and accurate statement of the government's taxing and spending program.
That statement, although hidden away in Appendix F, shows the actual budget surplus for 2007-08 is $13 million and that for the next three years the government expects to have an operating deficit accumulating to $141 million. That is the most accurate portrayal of the government's activities, and the headline figure used by the Chief Minister is only a confection. Sooner or later that is going to have to change.
You cannot spend it. I remind you that in opposition you pledged not to count the gains on super investments in a document entitled ACT Labor priorities—financial integrity, Labor: a charter of financial integrity. That document stated that Labor would "ensure that budgets and financial reports clearly show"—clearly show—"the operating performance of the territory, net of the results of invested superannuation cash reserves".
It is interesting to go back through budget speeches. I read with interest the Chief Minister's one in 2000. In fact, I read several. In his speech as opposition leader in 2000, Mr Stanhope's only real criticism of the Liberal government then was that it