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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 7 Hansard (22 August) . . Page.. 1846..


Budget—forecast

MR MULCAHY: My question is to the Treasurer. Treasurer, the June quarter 2007 consolidated financial report shows that initial forecasts of the GFS net operating balance were out by $209.4 million from the year-end figures. The same quarterly consolidated report shows that there has been a $90.8 million turnaround on the figures that you published on 5 June—just over two months ago. Treasurer, how can you claim that the financial basis for the 2007-08 budget is still sound when it has already, in the space of two months, required an adjustment of nearly $100 million?

Mr Pratt: Bloody embarrassing management, that!

MR SPEAKER: I warn you, Mr Pratt!

MR STANHOPE: I thank the shadow Treasurer for the question. It allows me to continue the theme. It is a theme that I am pleased to be able to continue, particularly in light of federal events in the last day or so. It allows us to compare. The shift over the last few months in the position of the ACT, particularly in revenue, is represented by a $32.4 million increase in residential conveyancing, compared to a $3.7 billion shift in the federal budget position, I presume since its mid-year review, which incorporated over $1 billion in company tax receipts.

In the context of the hue and cry, the outrageous commentary and the charges of incompetence and of deliberate misleading by both the Treasury and me—and this is at the heart of the Phil Lewis type of suggestion—there is the defamatory suggestion that these were dodgy numbers, confected presumably by Treasury. The suggestion is that within the ACT Treasury we have a group of officials who have deliberately confected a set of numbers, for what purpose we do not know, although some quite scurrilous suggestions to that effect have already been made by Mr Phil Lewis.

That is at the heart of the comparison that we can make today. If we are making comparisons, the shadow Treasurer charges that an underestimation of revenue, to the tune of $32.4 million, is a sign of gross incompetence, that an undervaluation of $24 billion over three years is a sign of good economic management and that the $1 billion in company tax receipts that the federal Treasury picked up over the last month somehow could not be anticipated, expected or were of a different genre—

Mr Mulcahy: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: standing order 118 (a) requires an answer to be concise and confined to the subject matter of the question. The question was: how can he claim that the financial basis is still sound when already, in the space of two months, it has required an adjustment of nearly $100 million? What it has to do with company tax receipts is beyond me.

MR SPEAKER: Stick to the subject matter of the question, Chief Minister.

MR STANHOPE: I am explaining quite appropriately, Mr Speaker, that traditionally there are significant divergences and variations in estimates that different governments make over time. It goes to the heart of the question regarding how we can make the claim. I cannot claim that there will not be a variance.


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