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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2388 ..

MS FOLLETT (continuing):

Mr Speaker, there are also reduced payments to the ACT Borrowing and Investment Trust Account, ACTBIT, for investment to provide a sinking fund for future repayment of debt. You have to bear in mind that this Government has had the highest level of borrowings ever in an ACT budget. That puts into context how important it is that we keep up contributions to the sinking fund. The sinking fund was previously maintained at about one-fifteenth of outstanding borrowings. To reduce the amount there is again a quite irresponsible act. As with the Superannuation Provision Trust Account, it is saying to future governments, "We are going to rob you at the moment because it is not going to be our problem how you make up these funds in future budgets".

I know that Mrs Carnell will argue that the funds for both of those areas will be restored "when the budget can afford to do so". The fact of the matter is that any budget is a matter of priorities. Mrs Carnell's priority was to give some $13m to the business community. I would have given priority to social justice initiatives, social justice objectives and protecting the future financial base of the Territory by making proper provision for both the Superannuation Provision Trust Account and the sinking fund. Mr Speaker, I think that is a serious criticism of Mrs Carnell's budget.

A further criticism which I think is very serious concerns the presentation of this budget. I have never seen a worse-presented budget. The budget papers make it absolutely impossible to make reasonable comparisons year on year, and, to my horror, I find in the Government's response to the Estimates Committee report that they will be different again next year. Once again, all of the Assembly and the Estimates Committee will be faced with the impossible task of trying desperately to reconcile irreconcilable sets of figures. Even where there has been a change from one format to another, as there is, for instance, in the Treasurer's quarterly financial report, there is no explanation of which one is being used, what the difference is or how they compare. This is a very serious flaw in the budget documentation. It is a sin against accountability - in my view, one of the most serious sins you can commit. I certainly hope that we will see vast improvements in the future. It was not just the figures that were difficult to sort out or that made reasonable comparisons impossible.

Debate interrupted.


MR SPEAKER: Order! It being 5.00 pm, I propose the question:

That the Assembly do now adjourn.

Mr Humphries: I require the question to be put forthwith without debate.

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