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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 5 Hansard (11 May) . . Page.. 1553..

Mr Smyth: The supplementary question is out of order, Mr Speaker. It asks for an opinion.

MR SPEAKER: Part of it is not.

MR STANHOPE: I will conclude with the point I make that, whilst this is an unanticipated, very significant and, of course, most welcome change in the territory's financial position and fortunes, of itself it goes to the heart of the issue I have been seeking to discuss in a mature way with this community in recent months—that is the serendipitous nature of windfall gains from land sales or as a result of superannuation investment returns.

It goes to the heart of why it is important that a government, for once in the time of self-government, grasps and accepts responsibility for initiating and carrying through the structural changes needed to ensure that no government in the future is held captive to wild swings in revenue such as have been the history of ACT governments since self-government in relation to land receipts and superannuation revenue receipts.

You get a good year; you get a bad year. But the swings and roundabouts on which successive governments have relied is not a sustainable approach to budgeting in the future. As a government we have committed, through the process of the commissioning of the Costello-Smith report and through a determination by me and my colleagues, to ensuring that we begin the tough, hard road of structural change and reform.

Here we have—and I am proud and pleased to be able to report—a significant turnaround in the budget position for this year. We budgeted for a $91 million deficit. We now have an expectation—and at this stage I repeat it is an expectation and we will not know until the end of June—based on a $198 million turnaround, of a fifth consecutive surplus. This confirms and reinforces the need, in some senses, for us as a government, for us as a parliament and for us as a community to grasp the nettle of genuine governance and structural reform. We, as a government, will do that, but the task we have set ourselves is not assisted by the hysterical scaremongering, distortion and fabrication which is now, and will forever be, a hallmark of the leadership of the Liberal Party by Brendan Smyth.

I repeat for the information of members that there has been a significant change in the current financial position of the ACT government—one which is a mirror reverse of the position the Leader of the Opposition has been spouting for the last month. One wonders about the way in which he will remove the significant amount of egg from his face as he faces the media and the community; and how he says, "Well, I have been championing a $390 million deterioration and I now have to accept that in fact there has been a $198 million improvement."One looks with some interest at Mr Smyth's attempts to explain the basis of the assessment he did that led to his $390 million concoction. We await with great interest the outcomes of that.

In conclusion, these strong returns are, of course, very welcome but we cannot assume that the budget can or will continue to be supported by booming investment markets into the future. That is why we need to take a longer-term focus on the budget to ensure that good budget outcomes are delivered into the future. This is the right time for examining

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