Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (27 May) . . Page.. 653 ..
MR MOORE (continuing):
What an operating loss recognises in an accrual sense in a budget like ours is that we have to continue maintenance. We have to continue operating in a way that is sustainable and that recognises the importance of intergenerational equity. We must have a position whereby we do not spend all the money now and leave the next generation to pay for it when the money runs out, when there are no assets left and when we do not have a sustainable system. We must have a sustainable system.
The good news, Mr Speaker, is that I am part of a Cabinet that will begin working on the operating loss and will address the operating loss. It is not beyond the intellect and the determination of the five members of the Cabinet that are sitting here to deal with this issue. We will deal with it. I will tell you exactly how we will deal with this issue on the day the budget is brought down because, Mr Speaker, that is the appropriate time to give the details. But the important thing is that we can be confident that this Government, the Government of which I am a part, will do whatever is necessary to ensure the financial stability and the financial sustainability of this Territory.
We will do it at the same time as we ensure that we are a caring government. I do not want to be part of any government that is not a caring government. That is why I am here. Indeed, I know that is why all members of the Assembly are here - because they care.
Mr Humphries: Caring and clever.
MR MOORE: I have already dealt with that. Mr Humphries interjects that we are going to be a clever government as well. I did say earlier that I have confidence that the intellect and the determination of the members of the Cabinet will ensure that we are able to do that.
Mr Berry: Can you tell us when this is going to happen?
MR MOORE: I love interjections from Mr Berry. He says, "So tell us when it is going to happen". It is going to happen one heck of a lot sooner than it would have if you had been the Chief Minister, Wayne Berry - probably 20 or 30 years earlier than if you had a stint as Chief Minister for even 31/2 years. The exact details that you are looking for, Mr Berry, will be delivered in the budget. The task will be difficult. It will involve unpleasant decisions. But it must be done. There is no option to avoid all the unpleasant choices. We know we have financial difficulties. They must be addressed. There is no point in dealing with it as an ostrich and burying our head in the sand. It is a matter of prioritising and ensuring that the unpleasant outcomes occur where they hurt least - choosing the most acceptable combinations and performing our duty to keep an open mind as to the way we should deal with them. Some of the decisions that the Cabinet makes in this way are not my personal decisions, but they are acceptable to me. I think that in the end we will demonstrate that we can be a caring government and still address the operating loss.
The critical part in addressing the operating loss is similar to the way people deal with their own budgets. There is no panacea. There are no magic solutions. In an ordinary budget you address difficulties by finding $5 here and $10 there, by making sure the light switches go out and the taps do not drip. You take two less trips in the car to ensure that