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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3460..


Mr Pratt: Those opposite.

MR SPEAKER: I do not care who it was referring to.

Mr Pratt: Mr Speaker, it was directed across the chamber.

MR SPEAKER: I am sorry that you do that because I was the one that ruled your question out of order. So if it was directed across the chamber, you should withdraw that, too. It was untimely.

Mr Pratt: I withdraw it, Mr Speaker.

Budget—surplus

MS MacDONALD: My question is to Mr Stanhope as Chief Minister. Chief Minister, can you update the Assembly on the current state of the territory's finances?

MR STANHOPE: I thank the member for the question. The first responsibility of any government is fiscal responsibility. Without that, there is of course nothing: no capacity to deliver the services a community relies upon; no ability to cushion a local economy against unexpected shocks. The ACT has lived through deficits before—successive Liberal deficits. The last time that the Liberals were in government, successive deficits under the Liberal Party amounted to $800 million over their term in government—$800 million in accumulated, successive deficits under the Liberal Party. That is the Liberal Party's record in government.

By contrast, Labor has delivered an unbroken spring of surpluses since it came to government. Under a future Labor government, the people of Canberra could look forward to that unbroken record of proven and responsible management continuing for the next four years.

The cumulative forecast general government sector net operating balance surplus published in the 2008-09 budget is $244 million over the next four years. These are modest, proven surpluses—surpluses that have allowed Labor to maintain the best services in the country for the people of Canberra: the best public schools, the best public hospitals, the best police force, and the best parks and recreational facilities.

These are modest, proven surpluses that have allowed us to embark on the biggest infrastructure program in the history of self-government—the first phase of the rebuild of our public health system to prepare for the demands of the future. Modest, proven surpluses that leave us ready for the future—surpluses delivered by a united, energetic and experienced team.

There are a number of reasons the government has run such surpluses year after year and why it will continue to run surpluses into the future. Such surpluses maintain a buffer against fiscal shocks and provide capacity to respond to unforeseen circumstances. They allow for investments in infrastructure that support the growth of a city. They allow for the government to invest in social infrastructure too—things like schools, parks, paths, hospitals and health centres.


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