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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 3 Hansard (27 March) . . Page.. 722 ..

Ministerial Statement

MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (3.34): I seek leave of the Assembly to make a ministerial statement on the timing of the 1996-97 budget.

Leave granted.

MRS CARNELL: I wish to advise members that the timing for presentation of the budget for 1996-97 has been settled for 24 September 1996. In initially planning for the budget, it was hoped that we could introduce the Appropriation Bill prior to the commencement of the 1996-97 financial year. An original planning date was 25 June 1996. The continuing uncertainty in the lead-up to the Federal elections made this date more and more difficult to hold to. This difficulty was also compounded by the uncertainty of the timing of this year's Premiers Conference. The latest advice on the conference date is now mid-June, although this is still formally to be confirmed by the Prime Minister. I expect there to be quite major issues impacting on Commonwealth, State and Territory financial arrangements discussed at this conference, not the least being the untying of various specific purpose grants and so on.

During our community budget consultation meetings in February I foreshadowed that the budget may have to be put back from our original planning date to enable us to include the outcome of the Premiers Conference in budget planning and decision-making. A further issue which has made 25 June now impossible is the industrial bans on the Government's IT systems, particularly the Fiscal financial system. The Fiscal system has been down since 27 February. This leaves an enormous amount of transactions not recorded and reconciliations not undertaken. It will take considerable resources to re-establish an accurate position of the Territory's finances. I wish to record the Government's appreciation to many areas of the Public Service for their efforts in maintaining manual arrangements to cover urgent and unavoidable commitments over this time. I am hoping that the bans will be lifted quickly, but the backlog of financial transactions could take months to be fully cleared and reconciled. My advice is that there could be $130m-plus of these transactions.

The Government has decided to present the budget to the Assembly on 24 September 1996. I must stress, however, that the budget for 1996-97 will continue our three-year budget plan, and the strategies outlined in our 1995-96 budget have not changed. Mr Speaker, it is with some regret that the Government has changed the budget date; but, due to our sitting periods, as we would be aware, the only option for Estimates Committee meetings other than the July option was October. Once the June date slipped, the next date, without changing our sitting pattern, was the September date. We chose that date rather than attempt to change the sitting pattern, as I understand that many people plan their lives and their families around those dates. I present the following paper:

Budget - 1996-97 - Timing - ministerial statement, 27 March 1996.

I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

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