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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (27 May) . . Page.. 652 ..

Management of Preschool Education

MR SPEAKER: I present, for the information of members, the Auditor-General's Report No. 1 of 1998 entitled "Management of Preschool Education".

Motion (by Mr Humphries, by leave) agreed to:

That the Assembly authorises the publication of the Auditor-General's Report No. 1 of 1998.


Debate resumed.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (3.36): I would like to begin my speech on the operating loss by congratulating Mr Osborne. We have seen a continued, mature contribution from the crossbenches in this Assembly. It pleases me that members of the crossbenches are recognising the broad responsibility of all members, not just the Executive, to ensure the financial health of the Territory. Mr Speaker, it is appropriate for Mr Osborne to draw attention to the Territory's operating loss, as indeed I did through the recent election campaign. I decided, in this campaign, not to sit on the crossbenches and say, "Let us spend, spend, spend", because it is always easy to spend money. Those of us who have children or have had children will know that it is never difficult to teach children how to spend money. They are very good at it; they learn it very quickly. The difficult part is teaching them the value of money, how to earn money and how to manage money. That is why this difficult issue needs to be dealt with carefully.

During the election campaign, Mr Speaker, I was highly critical of Labor, particularly of Wayne Berry leading Labor, for irresponsibility in the way they dealt with money and for their approach to the economic situation of the Territory. I was also critical of the Liberals, Mr Speaker. The Liberals said they would manage the budget extremely well. They put a limited number of promises up, as I recall, worth about $6m. That was reasonably contained. They said, "We have done wonderful things". Kate Carnell, the Chief Minister, stood up through the election campaign and said, "We have reduced the operating loss from some $300m to $150m". At the time I said, "Okay, that is good. Now, what are you going to do about the next $150m?". There were no answers. The question was avoided, other than to say, "We have already got rid of the last $150m and we are going to work on the next $150m".

I suggested a number of areas where it would be appropriate to raise revenue and suggested ways of raising revenue. It was quite clear that the Assembly would knock back some of the ideas I had for raising revenue. Indeed, that is entirely appropriate, but it is still appropriate for us to deal properly with the operating loss of this Territory because the operating loss does not just recognise the immediate cash position, which is easy to deal with because you can always sell off assets and bring in a balanced budget.

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