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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 1927 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

information came through the Chief Minister's Department. I do not know whether it did or not, but I would be happy if that were the case. It would seem to me to be quite possibly the case, because it would be consistent with the fact that it was a general budget decision taken within Cabinet. The two possibilities that you put, Mr Corbell, are not mutually exclusive. It is not either one or the other.

There are many issues here that Mr Stefaniak will deal with, I am sure, but the budget decisions that were taken by the Government were taken generally, mutually and by agreement. That is a normal process that I am sure Mr Corbell is quite familiar with.

MR RUGENDYKE (5.18): Over the last few days I have sat and listened intently to the debate on the Appropriation Bill. I have been criticised for not having made an input, I have been criticised for apparently being rusted onto the Liberal Party and I have been criticised for missing this morning's session.

Ms Tucker: No, we clarified that you were at a funeral.

MR RUGENDYKE: I understand that that was clarified, but disparaging remarks were made. It is appropriate at this stage to put my own political philosophies on the record in the light of that criticism. I do not think it is any secret that my political leanings are closer to the right than to the left. In that sense, I do not believe it should be any surprise that I would allow this budget to pass. My view is that the Executive of the Government has control of the purse strings, the budget. It is the Executive that has a right to spend money through the Appropriation Bill as it sees fit, and I believe it is the right of the Government to be given the opportunity to do that. It is all well and good to criticise before the event and criticise after the event if it is seen that that budget was a failure.

It is important to state that I think that this budget is being driven by the desire to get the operational debt down to a minimum. When this Government came to power, the operating debt was $344m. I have no idea what $344m looks like, so I would like to just try to visualise what it might look like. I would ask members to direct their minds to the TV ads of the Tattslotto organisation that show about $1m in a truck. To get to a comfort zone that the Labor Party are happy with, we would need a convoy of 340 trucks loaded with money to drive into the Territory to satisfy that amount of money. Three hundred and forty trucks would have to come down the Federal Highway into the Territory to satisfy what the Labor Party wants to do. I applaud the Government for getting the debt down the $139m projected in this budget. Of course, there is pain and hardship, but at least we do not need 340 trucks clogging Northbourne Avenue as they head to the treasury full of money. I applaud a reduction of the debt.

We all remember the Labor Party's pre-election budgetary solutions. We remember Mr Berry's Bankcard bill. We remember Mr Corbell's wonderful statement: "What is the difference if the debt is $150m or $151m?". That sort of blase attitude does not do anyone any good. It is obviously a matter of how you view what the budget result should look like. The Labor Party, on the one hand, is happy with 340 truckloads of money coming into the Territory. The Liberal Party, on the other hand,

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