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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 November 2010) . . Page.. 5453 ..


The territory continues to maintain a strong balance sheet as reflected in a number of the indicators such as net worth, net financial liabilities and net debt. I commend the report to the Assembly and move:

That the Assembly take note of the paper.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (3.27): I thank the Treasurer for the tabling of the September quarter 2010 consolidated financial report.

Ms Gallagher: You are the only excited person about the September quarter, Brendan.

MR SMYTH: It is very important, and the Treasurer will no doubt surely table the consolidated annual financial statements, because it is important that the two are read in concert. I note that the consolidated financial report was released on 5 November—for those that were not at the wonderful hearing that we had last week, the day after the Treasurer appeared before PAC for the annual report hearing. Some might say it was a clever strategy to avoid any questioning on this report, but the minister assured us that there was no conspiracy; it was just coincidence that it arrived the day after we had had the hearings that it may have got an airing in. Another win for openness, transparency and accountability!

If you take the September quarter report as the quarter that follows on, it is important because in a sense they complement each other because one provides a quarterly follow-on to the other’s insight into the performance during the previous financial year.

I am sure the Treasurer at one level will say that it would appear that the ACT economy and fiscals are travelling very well. I am sure she would be delighted to say that—that there is no need to be concerned; everything is travelling along quite nicely and “we’ve got a plan”. But, unfortunately, all is not what it seems from the information in this relatively benign report. What you can take at first blush is that there is absolutely no sense that this government is attempting to drive the ACT economy. It is, in fact, the economy that is driving the government. And there is no sense that this government is responding to economic developments in the way in which other jurisdictions are responding.

We know, because the Treasurer always quotes from it when it is in her favour, that the latest report on state economies from CommSec, the economic research arm of the Commonwealth Bank, concluded that the ACT and Western Australia have been the two best performing economies in Australia. One would expect that this would see the ACT budget performing as well as those in other jurisdictions—wouldn’t we?—especially given the strength of federal government spending in the ACT, the very strong ACT housing market and very low unemployment in the ACT.

But what is the reality? If we look at the performance of various of the other states for the 2009-10 financial year we see that even the cot case economy, New South Wales, recorded a $2 billion turnaround, largely due to a much stronger residential property market. Victoria recorded a surplus—it was four times the original surplus estimate of


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