Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008-2009 Week 1 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 64..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
Even in financial policy around the country, there has been a massive change since the election. The comments that the Chief Minister made are true. Our spending, our commitment, would not drive the budget into deficit. Like the rest of the country and like the rest of the OECD, we are looking at very difficult times over the next two years. The Assembly is going to have to work together to look at how we protect our economy, protect budget surpluses into the future, and work our way out of these difficult times.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Seselja.
MR SESELJA: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Treasurer, was this promise not to go into deficit the same as your promise not to close schools prior to the 2004 election?
MS GALLAGHER: I think I have answered that question.
MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, my question is also to the Treasurer. Treasurer, in the City News of 4 December 2008, you are quoted as saying:
From my short understanding with Treasury, this seems to be what the whole budget is—it is all estimates and guessing and where things are going to fit to their best understanding at that point in time.
Treasurer, when and on what basis did Treasury tell you that forming a budget is "all estimates and guessing"?
MS GALLAGHER: Mr Smyth has been around here for a long time, and he has been the shadow treasurer for a lot longer than I have been the Treasurer. I think there is an understanding that putting budgets together is based on the best information available at that point in time, and that is why you do things such as the mid-year review, so that you can review the estimates that form part of the budget. In fact, the committee that is formed to review the budget is called the budget estimates committee.
Mr Smyth: So it's guessing? It could be called a "guessing"budget?
MS GALLAGHER: Look, I don't stand here and pretend that I have all the answers or all the understanding of the Treasury portfolio. I would be wrong to say that. But what I would say is that when you look at figures, they are the best figures available at the time, and that is the truth, Mr Smyth.
Mr Smyth: But they're guesses?
MS GALLAGHER: Perhaps I could have been more careful with my language, Mr Smyth; I'll give you that. But it is true that I don't stand here with all the answers, and the figures that are put into budgets are estimates at the time, as best as you can foresee into the future, and those estimates change, and we have seen them change a lot, and they are going to change again over the next couple of years.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, a supplementary?