Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 27 October 2011) . . Page.. 5212 ..
MR BARR: Yes, it will. Thank you, Mr Assistant Speaker. So I get that acknowledgement from the shadow treasurer. So that is it; matter settled. The Chief Minister’s comments are entirely correct. It will be more than $10 million. Of course, it will be. The four-year impact will be more than $10 million. We know that. The opposition know that and that matter will clearly be confirmed in formal Treasury costings in relation to this particular policy commitment.
It is, of course, worth noting that when policies are costed by the Treasury, unless full information is provided by the political party putting forward the information, Treasury will have to make assumptions in relation to the application of policy. The lesson in this for all of us is that the process will be aided, and there will be less of this sort of debate, if political parties provide the full assumptions that underpin their election policies to Treasury for costing. I think that is the best way forward for all parties or else we will have this debate all the time.
The Chief Minister is perfectly entitled in a press conference that was wide ranging to give an estimate of what an opposition policy would cost over the forward estimates. The fact is that the Chief Minister in fact gave a very conservative estimate. I would anticipate that it would be less than half of what might be the four-year cost of that policy commitment. Based on the figures that I have seen in relation to the opposition’s policy and the question on notice that has been provided, it would appear that if you add up the total of the four years, it will be well in excess of $10 million. I see no disagreement. I am hearing no disagreement from those opposite. Very good.
MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER: And you should not either, Mr Barr, because that is being disorderly.
MR BARR: We will take that at this late stage of the sitting fortnight as agreement across the chamber that it will be more than $10 million over the four years. As the Chief Minister has indicated, the government has no objection to this particular motion, but there will be no paperwork forthcoming. However, I can certainly give this commitment, because I have asked for a formal costing from Treasury. When that is available, it will be released.
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (5.15), in reply: We have now had it confirmed that this costing was based on nothing. It was based on a guesstimate—“in my head”—in the Chief Minister’s head. If that is the way the Chief Minister is going to run in the lead-up to the election, it will be par for the course, because we know that she has done it before. The word “annually” may or may not have been used, but the Chief Minister did not withdraw it. It is the same as in 2004 when the statement was made, “There will be no school closures.” The Chief Minister later said, “I never said that.” You need to correct the record.
It is interesting that the Chief Minister leaves. She treats this place with so much disdain. She runs away. This action calls into doubt everything the government says about election costings, and it must stop. The Chief Minister must be accurate in what she says because, as she said in her own code of conduct, the position of ministers is one of trust. She needs to be trustworthy and in this instance she has not been so.