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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (16 August) . . Page.. 2237..


MR STANHOPE: You said "since Mr Quinlan's time". I have been Treasurer for 31/2 months.

Mr Mulcahy: Last year.

MR STANHOPE: No, you said "since Mr Quinlan's time". The essential suggestion is that the level of debt or the number of debtors has doubled in three months. I must say that I find it quite surprising and concerning to believe that the number of debtors that we are dealing with has doubled from the end of March to the middle of August. I need to look-

Mr Mulcahy: Obfuscating.

MR STANHOPE: Mr Mulcahy says that I am obfuscating. Mr Mulcahy's question, which I asked him to repeat, referred to accepting that the number of debtors has doubled or increased by 50 per cent since Mr Quinlan's time. Mr Quinlan resigned at the end of March. It is now 31/2 months since Mr Quinlan resigned. I am being asked to accept that the number of debtors has increased by 50 per cent in that time. I am a little cynical about that claim. I am a touch cynical about the claim that the number of debtors had doubled within three months.

The incredible strength of the ACT economy-trend unemployment at 2.8 per cent, the level of economic activity and confidence and the whole range of indicators that we went through yesterday in relation to the strength of the ACT economy-leads one to have the greatest concern about any suggestion or assertion by Mr Mulcahy on the matter.

MR MULCAHY: My supplementary question to the Treasurer is: why has the government not chosen to more efficiently pursue debtors in view of the $21.8 million now owing for unpaid taxes, fees and fines that are over 120 days overdue?

MR STANHOPE: The pursuit of debts and the processes that any government utilises in relation to any unpaid or due debt or payment are complex issues. We have had in this place at length debate on how to pursue the full range of citizens that have outstanding debts of one sort of another, whether it be through unpaid, overdue library fees, unpaid parking fees or unpaid speeding or traffic fines. These are complex and difficult issues. There is a range of debts owing across the board in relation to rates. As I say, it is quite legitimate to add in unpaid, overdue library fines, unpaid traffic fines.

We have instituted, through this Assembly, in relation to traffic matters a quite rigorous and, some believe, draconian regime for ensuring that people that infringe in their driving or their parking are, essentially, forced through a stage of hoops to the point where, if they do not pay their fines, they lose their licence and can be proceeded against in relation to their property.

What is the ratio or the balance that a government pursues? In order to pursue an individual debtor who owes the territory $10 in overdue library fees, how much do we spend in pursuit of a $10 fine? How much do we spend in pursuing a $100 fine, payment or debt? It is an issue which Treasury-and I know urban services, in relation to traffic


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