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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (2 February) . . Page.. 16 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

superannuation commitment. Then there is nothing to worry about. That is what the Australia Institute did up front. The gospel of optimism has now been delivered by Mr Quinlan, who has really built on that message brilliantly. Why stop with just assuming away $1 billion worth of future growth in superannuation liability? Why not also assume away $250m of current liability? That is what this committee report suggests. We will assume away $1 billion worth of accruing liability - that is great - and now we will assume away $250m of current liability. As long as we are optimistic, we can do this, and why worry about anything? The Australia Institute went part of the way; Mr Quinlan developed that message, and now I am honoured to be one of his new advocates of this wonderful new theory of optimism!

Mr Speaker, clearly this report does produce a solution. It is the solution we were all seeking. It is the holy grail of budgeting that I, now being drunk from drinking from the chalice of optimism, can declare that I am an advocate of. We now have no superannuation problem at all. We can simply assume it away. We can simply take optimistic projections, that the Actuary says were only projections, shove them into the budget and not have a problem.

Mr Speaker, I can hear you saying, "Is this possible?". Obviously it is possible, because if you take the approach that Mr Quinlan's committee did we can assume away anything. We can take optimistic approaches to anything that we want to do in our budget. Big growth rates - no problem. It is just so wonderfully liberating to discard the pessimism of the past and simply assume that we have no superannuation liability.

Mr Berry: Why don't you go to the substance?

MS CARNELL: Mr Berry said, "Why not get to the substance?". This is the first recommendation. It says that we can assume away $250m worth of liability; that the Government was too pessimistic; that we should have been more optimistic. This is not something I am making up but what this report actually says.

I think we can go even further than this. I wonder why we need a budget or, for that matter, an Office of Financial Management. Optimism makes prudent financial management and economic analysis totally irrelevant. As the Australian Government Actuary pointed out, prudent financial planning means being conservative. Wrong, committee, wrong! We used to believe we could not take these wonderful new optimistic approaches. Conservative approaches, as the Australian Government Actuary has told us, mean being pessimistic.

Now we will have none of this pessimistic approach to anything. We can save millions of dollars. How about we abolish the Office of Financial Management? Why bother having that? We could call it the Office of Optimism, the OOO. The fact that it resembles the emergency number is not something I think any of us should worry too much about, because we are being optimistic.

The applications of this new ethos go much further. Obviously, they go right to the core of this issue, and that is the future of ACTEW. Clearly, if we adopt an optimistic approach to the future of ACTEW, it solves all of our problems for the corporation, because from then on ACTEW can do anything. ACTEW will not lose any customers in

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