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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 2109..


MR SMYTH (continuing):

I acknowledge that he's come down here and he's made it quite clear as to what he intends to do. This is the appropriate way to do it or, as he points out, it would be some time before the government would be able to bring this option back into the Assembly. So the process in this case is the correct way to do it. It's a shame the process wasn't done properly before the bill was first introduced.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Revenue Legislation Amendment Bill 2003 (No 2)

Mr Quinlan

, by leave, presented the bill and its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by acting clerk.

MR QUINLAN

(Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism and Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming) (11.08): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I would like, just for a moment, to address some of the comments Mr Smyth made earlier in terms of guesstimates and the work beforehand. What officers did explain to the Estimates Committee was that some of the numbers that were asked for and couldn't be given were not available, in fact, because of the privacy of the banking records and, therefore, estimates and guesses had to be made because the numbers requested are simply not a matter of public record.

In terms of prior consultation: I'll just say that I do recall a discussion on ABC radio a week or two ago, I think in relation to our withdrawal of the fire levy, and with one Chris Richardson of Access Economics, where he said, "Of course there is, in the process of budget compilation, always the problem of prior consultation."

In terms of what is to be incorporated into a budget and at what level, it is very difficult to maintain the necessary confidentiality of what's occurring and at the same time consult on all fronts. I have the greatest sympathy for my Treasury officials as they do try to find their way, on their best knowledge at times, as opposed to being able to go out-which they'd love to of course-and bounce their ideas off everybody.

The greatest way of auditing anything you want to do is to tell people what you're going to do to them and they'll give every reason why you shouldn't. Then you have in fact a complete picture from which to make your final decision. However, that's not possible in practical terms in the budget process. As long as we're prepared to be a little flexible in life and we don't just stick to our guns purely for big-headedness, then this sort of thing may occur from time to time. There's an old saying: "It's no good having a mind if you can't change it."

The process here is about genuine objections which have been raised. In particular, in relation to this duty, the fact that there is an intention by the state of Victoria to abolish this duty next year changes the picture completely. It was not something that certainly was known to me at the time. Of course, as most people in this place would know, the


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