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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 5 Hansard (10 May) . . Page.. 1464..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

jurisdiction—so I can say "almost the strongest, if not the strongest"—balance sheet in Australia. Our credit ratings take those things into account.

The trouble with these tricky little questions from a tricky coat-tugger on his return from his world tour is that you lead into the question with: "Why have you said that our AAA credit rating is not at risk,"when I have never ever said our AAA crediting rating is not at risk. My life is not at risk—I could be run over by a bus tomorrow. The credit rating agency can do what it will in relation to our credit rating. To date, we have had four consecutive surplus budgets, and a fifth looking pretty good—a $37 million deficit and dropping.

Would not that be awful? Would you not hate it? If and when I walk into this place and say, "This is the fifth consecutive surplus budget,"what are you going to do then? What are you going to do when I stand up here and say, "It is my pleasure to inform the Assembly that we have produced our fifth consecutive surplus budget"? Where will it put your wild, hysterical rhetoric of the last two weeks—your $390 million deficits, your collapsing budget position—when I walk into this place—

Mr Smyth: We look forward to it.

MR STANHOPE: The Leader of the Opposition looks forward to it. He likes the pay. He looks forward to it like he looks forward to his next party meeting when Richard Mulcahy, nudging Bill ahead, says, "Bill, today is the day. You can't put it off any longer."He looks forward to it in the way that he looks forward to his next party meeting. He looks forward to it in the way that he looks forward to never having to sit in front of Mrs Dunne and Mr Seselja.

Mr Smyth: Poor Jon.

MR STANHOPE: No, not poor Jon. We know it is coming, Brendan.

Mr Mulcahy: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: as fascinating as this is, it has really nothing to do with the AAA rating, which I am concerned about.

MR SPEAKER: Come to the subject matter of the question.

MR STANHOPE: I am talking about the AAA credit rating, four consecutive surplus budgets, accumulated surpluses of over $250 million and perhaps, just perhaps, a fifth surplus on the way, in the face of an hysterical, mindless and false campaign conducted and orchestrated by the Leader of the Opposition and the shadow Treasurer—the two who are out there struggling and arm wrestling for the economic credentials on the opposition bench, to the extent that the arm wrestle is so powerful that the Leader of the Opposition unceremoniously turfed the shadow Treasurer off the estimates committee, seeking to be the economic voice of the opposition. Why is that, I wonder.

Why would a leader of the opposition who trusts his shadow Treasurer create or manufacture a position in which there is no place on the estimates committee for the shadow Treasurer? Have you ever heard the likes of it? Have you ever heard the likes of a leader of the opposition so embattled and so afraid of his position that he manufactures

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