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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3233 ..

Paper and Ministerial Statement

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer): For the information of members, I present, pursuant to section 25 of the Financial Management Act 1996, the consolidated annual financial statements for the 1997-98 financial year, together with the audit opinion. I ask for leave to make a short statement.

Leave granted.

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I am pleased to present to the Assembly the ACT Government's consolidated financial statements for the year ended 30 June 1998. The statements have been audited by the Auditor-General, who has given an unqualified opinion. The statements are also in full compliance with the reporting and tabling deadlines set by the Financial Management Act 1996.

In accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, the Territory's consolidated operating result for 1997-98 includes all departments, statutory authorities and corporations owned by the ACT, as well as entities controlled by the ACT Government. To accurately reflect the financial performance of the Territory as a whole, internal transactions and balances between ACT agencies are eliminated so that only external trading of the Territory entity remains.

The ACT Government's consolidated operating loss for 1997-98 was $170m. Whilst this loss is $17m greater than that recorded last year, it is still a $66m improvement on the 1997-98 budgeted expectations. The general government sector recorded a loss of $129m, which is a significant improvement of $41m on last year's loss and an $82m improvement on the budgeted result. Mr Speaker, these results speak for themselves - an $82m, or 39 per cent, improvement from budget. The public trading enterprise sector also recorded an improved result after tax of $8m from budget and a $12m improvement from last year's result.

The Territory held net assets of $6.8 billion at the end of 1997-98. This includes $7.89 billion of fixed assets and $620m in cash and financial investments. The strong balance sheet of the Territory means that the Territory's credit risk rating remains at AAA, the highest available in the country.

Mr Speaker, this Government was elected on a platform of sound financial management. Prior to this Government, the Territory was being burdened with general government sector losses of nearly $300m. A decrease from a $300m loss to a $129m loss during a time of unprecedented reductions in funding from the Commonwealth is an achievement that we certainly are proud of. It is, Mr Speaker, an ongoing commitment of this Government to ensuring that the operating loss of the Territory is addressed and systematically reduced.

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