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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (27 May) . . Page.. 654 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

you buy more carefully in the supermarket and you buy fewer clothes. That is how you keep a balanced budget at home, and it is the same here. We are going to have to find a $500,000 saving here, a $1m saving there, a $200,000 saving somewhere else, and so on. Mr Speaker, that is what we will be doing, and it is an appropriate way to go. This Assembly could, if it wished, take the cowardly way out and avoid political pain by deferring the problems to the kids. It would be an easy way to do it and, of course, it would be politically palatable. It would not be difficult to fudge a budget and say, "We have a balanced budget. We have a cash surplus". But that is not good enough. We have to ensure that we retain the courage to deliver as soon as possible a genuinely balanced budget, a budget that does not carry an operating loss. It will not happen immediately, but we have to go down the path of ensuring that we can achieve it. We should ensure the public is well informed.

I appreciate the fact that Mr Osborne has brought this motion into the Assembly to highlight the fact that all of us, as members of this Assembly, have a responsibility to deal with the financial issues. I look forward to the time, Mr Speaker, when we have an operating surplus, a small operating surplus, unlike what Mr Howard has done with his budget, where you have an obscene surplus but problems in terms of health, education and a whole series of other things. I do not want to be part of a government that carries a big surplus and says, "Oh, aren't we lucky. We have a lot of money in the back pocket".

We need to spend money on health, education and community care. Those are the areas that I want to see us spend money on. As soon as we can get the budget under control, I will be one of the ones out there saying, "I know how to spend the money". It is always easy to say, "I know how to spend the money". I know plenty of community groups can tell us how to spend the money and I know members right across this house can tell us how to spend it. Once we get the budget under control, we can then look at setting a new set of priorities where we can go about spending the money to the benefit of the people of Canberra.

MR WOOD (3.46): Mr Speaker, I rise to make a point on one issue, and that is, the Auditor-General's report which came down today. Mr Moore has alleged irresponsibility on the part of the ALP in its approach to the ACT budget. This report throws it back to Mr Moore. I suggest he turn to page 8 of the report, which is about management of preschool education, where he will find how the Auditor described uneconomic practices. Mr Moore might care to read that very carefully as he continues his budget deliberations. He might also reflect on a report - - -

Mr Moore: Do you want us to cut preschools?

MR WOOD: No, I am not stating any position. I am throwing it to you, Mr Moore. You are saying your view will be expressed when the budget comes down. You say, "Take hard decisions", "But I am not sure", "I have not seen that before" and "We may see it in the near future". Mr Moore might also look at a similar report by the Auditor-General, which was tabled about four years ago and which said very much the

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