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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 5241..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

introduced by the previous government to amortise shifts in value over, I think, a period of 12 years on a cyclic basis, which the previous auditor both supported and then did not support as time went by. So I think that really underscores the fact that there are differences of opinion.

If we said, "All right, we want a valuation of TransACT at the sale value of today,"that could shift quite dramatically. I know there are people with whom I have had discussions who are very keen to get into TransACT and who believe that it will one day escalate in value at a very rapid rate in terms of its saleability. So I do not think to write it up and write it down year in and year out will achieve a whole lot. We know that the money has been invested. We know that TransACT is continuing its rollout-not as quickly as we would like. We know that it could probably do with an extension of the material that it provides, to make it more attractive, particularly the entertainment end of TransACT. But we are looking at ways of making it more efficient, and, if it is more efficient, then its net present value will increase, by virtue of projected earnings when it does, hopefully, become a big earner.

It is one of those investments on which opinions will be divided. If Actew has put forward its statements, and it has got qualified, professional advice on its particular treatment, then I think we are prepared to accept that. What we get out of this, for the information of people who read the statements and are able to understand them, is the best of both worlds, because you get the value that has been placed on it by Actew-effectively the investment value-and at the same time you get the auditor saying, "That might not be the case."If we just write it off, it would be just written off and you would not get that spectrum of information.

So I do not see the particular qualifications that exist in the statements as being of major concern. They might be-if the accounting methods that we used, in each case, were not subject to fairly evenly divided opinion amongst the profession.

With regard to the superannuation one, there just is no Australian standard. Standards are being developed, and in the next couple of years we will see a greater uniformity of national and international standards in accounting, and that is what the international bodies are working towards. In the meantime, I cannot see that this causes our presentation to be diminished in any way, and it does not strike me as being of major concern.

University sector

MR HARGREAVES: My question is to the Deputy Chief Minister. Minister, you will be aware of the recent announcement that the ANU has been ranked as one of the top 50 universities in the world. At the same time, the University of Canberra has announced an 11 per cent increase in applications. How does the government intend to capitalise on the strength of our university sector to build the ACT economy?

MR QUINLAN: Thank you, Mr Hargreaves. I gather from that question that you are getting the seasonal spirit and would like to end the year on a positive note and enjoy some good news.

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