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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 25 October 2018) . . Page.. 4291 ..


I would remind members that this is, of course, the highest possible credit rating and speaks to the ACT’s very sound public finances. We are one of only three Australian states and territories to hold this rating and, indeed, one of just a handful of subnational jurisdictions around the world.

In this latest assessment Standard & Poor’s has increased its overall assessment of the territory’s financial fundamentals, particularly marking us up for budgetary performance and our manageable liabilities. S&P noted the strong turnaround that the ACT has made since the government used our balance sheet to support the territory’s economy and to protect local jobs. The ratings agency pointed out that downside risks such as those associated with the asbestos remediation program are diminishing over time because of our efforts to manage this program within budget.

By confirming the ACT’s AAA credit rating for another year S&P has highlighted something that is there for everyone to see in the budget papers: that the territory’s finances are strong; that our borrowings are responsible and manageable; and that we have achieved this while continuing to invest in better services and infrastructure for Canberrans.

MS ORR: Chief Minister, why does the territory’s credit rating matter to anyone who is not a treasury bean counter?

MR BARR: With the greatest of respect to treasury bean counters, people beyond just the bean counters need to have an interest in the territory’s fiscal position, and maintaining a AAA credit rating is confirmation that the ACT’s finances are strong and sustainable.

It is important for all Canberrans because without a strong budget delivered through responsible fiscal management the government would not be able to keep growing our investment in more and better services for this community and investing in the infrastructure we will need into the future.

If our revenues and our tax base were not stable and efficient, we would not be able to hire more teachers in our local schools and frontline staff in our hospitals and know that we could keep them working for this community into the years ahead.

Without manageable debts and the capacity to repay them we would not be able to invest in more public transport and build new health facilities at Canberra Hospital or new schools in growth areas. Without a responsible plan to meet our future liabilities we could not guarantee a secure retirement for the tens of thousands of past and present employees of the ACT public service.

A strong credit rating is not an end in itself, but it is a signal that we are on the right track to managing the territory’s budget responsibly so that we can keep delivering for this community into the years ahead.

MS CODY: Chief Minister, did international financial experts Standard & Poor’s express concern or reservations about the inclusion of the superannuation return adjustment when presenting the headline net operating balance, the territory’s level of


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