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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 6 Hansard (22 May) . . Page.. 1609 ..

MRS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I am very happy for Mr Berry to have a full and intricate briefing on exactly what the strategy involves and why nearly 25 per cent of all the cases we inherited just over 12 months ago have now been resolved and all but eight have a proper plan in place to resolve their problems.

Budget Presentation

MR MOORE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister because I cannot find anything in the notice paper in Mr Whitecross's name. Chief Minister, you informed - - -

Mr Berry: I raise a point of order. Mr Speaker, a whole range of other people in this chamber may wish to ask a question. Mr Moore has made an attempt, and his question was ruled out of order. It would be far better if everybody else had a turn.

MR MOORE: I think he should read standing order 113A. Chief Minister, you informed this house that you would not be able to bring down a budget in the middle of the year, as had been done prior to your Government by Ms Follett, the then Treasurer. You said that you would not be able to put a budget together because you were not sure what money was coming from the Commonwealth. Is it some source of embarrassment for you that the Labor Government in New South Wales has been able to bring down a budget which the parliament there will be able to consider prior to the new financial year?

MRS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, the reasons that I gave for delaying the budget were the uncertainty of the timing of the Premiers Conference and, of course, the desirability of incorporating any decisions taken by that conference into the 1996-97 budget. Mr Moore will realise that the ACT is somewhat more affected by fairly small changes in figures than a State like New South Wales is. Some States - Western Australia, for example - have already brought down their budgets; some States are going early still; some States are waiting till after the Premiers Conference. Two approaches have been taken. Taking into account the problems that we were having with the Fiscal financial system and taking into account that amounts of money that would not affect the total New South Wales pool would make an enormous amount of difference to the ACT, we believe that our approach is the most prudent approach. One of the most important reasons for bringing down an early budget is to ensure that departments are aware of what their budget constraints and challenges will be right from the beginning of the financial year. Mr Moore can be assured that that will be the case.

MR MOORE: I ask a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Can the Chief Minister indicate what her intention is for future years, or is she also going to try to find excuses in future years to avoid bringing down the budget at a sensible time?

MR SPEAKER: Order! I think that is a hypothetical question, Chief Minister.

MRS CARNELL: Thank you very much, Mr Moore. From our perspective, it certainly was not an excuse, but it was something that we really did not want to do. An earlier budget is by far the most sensible strategy, Mr Moore, and it is something that we will be aiming at in the future.

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