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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 26 November 2014) . . Page.. 4078 ..


MR DOSZPOT: My question is to the Treasurer, regarding the 2014-15 budget. Treasurer, I refer to reports in today’s Canberra Times that the impact of the Mr Fluffy buyback could increase the size of the budget deficit by $524 million. Treasurer, are these reports correct, and is the ACT government now forecasting a budget deficit of over $800 million in 2014-15?

MR BARR: If everyone takes up the offer of the buyback in the Mr Fluffy scheme in the current fiscal year and the full appropriation is drawn down then its headline net operating balance impact would be over $500 million. The impact on the overall territory headline net operating balance for the current fiscal year would be in the order of what Mr Doszpot has indicated.

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Mr Doszpot.

MR DOSZPOT: Treasurer, are you still forecasting that the ACT budget will return to surplus by 2016-17? If not, when are you planning to return to surplus?

MR BARR: Those matters will be updated in the midyear review in due course.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Smyth.

MR SMYTH: Treasurer, why is the government going ahead with an expensive light rail project, given the poor state of the ACT budget?

MR BARR: Firstly, the budget is not in a poor state. We are managing a challenging situation in relation to the Mr Fluffy buyback scheme, but that will be a one-off impact on the headline net operating balance. That will impact in the current fiscal year predominantly, with an expectation of some further impact in the following fiscal year.

As Mr Corbell has indicated in this place on a number of occasions, the way in which we are procuring light rail will have no fiscal impact in terms of availability payments and the like until such infrastructure is operating, in around five years time.

The government’s fiscal strategy is to deal with the Mr Fluffy issues over the next four budgets. We also seek to address our infrastructure priorities in health, education and public transport, together with dealing with the Mr Fluffy issue. They are the four priorities for the ACT government in the context of our infrastructure program. We will meet those particular obligations and priorities. Other areas will, of course, be subject to annual budget consideration.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Smyth.

MR SMYTH: Treasurer, what capital works projects are being deferred to reduce the impact on the budget?

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