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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 1672 ..

Part 3 - Chief Minister's Department

Proposed expenditure - Chief Minister's Department, $90,713,000 (comprising net cost of outputs, $60,189,000; capital injection, $12,237,000; and payments on behalf of Territory, $18,287,000)

MR QUINLAN (5.10): Mr Speaker, I refer to some of the recommendations of the Select Committee on Estimates. Even though I think our budgets stack up fairly well on a national standard, there is room within the Chief Minister's budget, given that we are relatively small, to re-emphasise that the changes that have been made from year to year mean it is rather difficult to make comparisons and to use the budget in this debate. I have a couple of people in my office who have worked long and hard in working their way through the budget. They deluged the Office of Financial Management with questions and elicited considerably more information. Maybe as we move along there will be less necessity to do this as we learn a little more and as there is an aim within the budgets to produce clear information - to inform. Accounting standards are all about a clear and fair view of what is occurring, and I think we need to keep focusing on that objective.

We know that within accounting standards there is a requirement for notes to attach to financial statements and for them to be informative. But we are still battling, in some areas, to be convinced that the clear objective is to fully inform. I guess when you are on the inside sometimes you know too much to put yourself in the position of a person trying to understand and to read what is included in the figures. But I do hope that we will make a greater effort to pursue these issues in the budget. Although we have a table showing where money has been shifted from place to place, we need to go to individual programs and to be told what we spent last year and what we are going to spend this year. As an opposition, we want to know where the cuts are and, yes, we will still stand up and use them in debate. Nevertheless, if we are to adhere to accounting standards and we are to continue to develop in this regard within the ACT, we have to keep our eye on that particular ball.

I have a couple of areas of comment that I would like to make on the overall funding. When I search through budgets I am, to a large extent, at a loss to know, overall, precisely what we are spending towards 2000. We are spending money at Bruce; we are spending money on Project 2000; we are spending money under the umbrella of elite sports; we are spending money on assisting elite teams; but we do not know how much funding is involved. You tread a fine wire, of course, if you criticise what is happening at Bruce. We have had the party line pretty well down. For instance, if you do not like what is happening at Bruce, you do not like the Raiders and the Brumbies; therefore, you are disloyal, you eat babies, and so on. As I said once before in this place - I think last week - the appeal to patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

I am certainly in favour of our participation in the Olympics. I would just like to know exactly what it will cost. I would like to think that the people of the ACT will know what it is costing now and what they are committed for so that we can all participate happily with it, comfortable in the knowledge that we are not paying too much in terms of the other options that might have been available had that expenditure been applied in other areas. What about other sports? Olympic soccer is coming here, but - - -

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