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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 636..


MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

deadline, rather than table one now that may not have been able to take all issues into consideration. They are the reasons.

MRS CROSS: I thank the minister for her answer. Minister, can you advise the chamber when you think the government's response may be tabled?

MS GALLAGHER: The intention is to table it in the April sitting.

Budget

MR STEFANIAK: My question is to the Treasurer, Mr Quinlan. On WIN News last night, the Chief Minister described the budgetary situation of the ACT government as "pretty crook". Some people might say that this is due largely to Labor's fiscal mismanagement, as Labor inherited a surplus budget from the Canberra Liberals. Minister, what is the shortfall that the ACT government is facing in preparing next year's budget?

MR QUINLAN: I thank Mr Stefaniak for the question. I guess the description by the Chief Minister-"pretty crook"-is fairly accurate. Mr Stefaniak talks about what we inherited. What we inherited was also pretty crook.

Mr Pratt: A damn sight better than a $344 million deficit.

MR QUINLAN: Which Carnell produced, apparently. Do your homework, son. The point is that the budget is suffering from a turndown in the investment market, superannuation. We had a little bit of argy-bargy this morning about its being now the hoary chestnut or something like that. As to previous budgets in which the ACT has done reasonably well at the end of the year, the result at the end of last year had very little to do with the actual budget itself, if you would like to compare the original budget and the numbers that came out.

There was certainly a very high return from conveyancing, which propped it up. There was the beginning of the slide in terms of investment. But I suppose the major feature of the budget that operated through last financial year was that there were so many elements of the budget and the forward budgets that should have been there and weren't. The classic-I carry this list with me-was the nurses' dispute, a protracted dispute. Offers were made, so the high tide or the low tide mark was already set, but it was not budgeted for.

Part of the reason that we are pretty crook is that our budget this year is, in fact, meeting the cost of that nurses' dispute and meeting the cost of bringing nursing wages up to a national standard, which just did not appear in the budgets that you guys presented. That means that those budgets were deficient. We will try to avoid those other words that we fought over this morning. You would have to say on any benchmark that the last Liberal budget brought forward did not reflect the true picture of the ACT. It did not reflect the disaster that you had set up with the Totalcare quarry. It did not include the losses that were made by the car race that you ran but were shoved into the following year.

Mr Corbell: Less than CPI.


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