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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (5 May) . . Page.. 1357 ..

MR CORBELL (12.23): I will be brief, Mr Speaker. I do not want to go over the arguments for the motion. I think those have been quite adequately covered by my colleagues and by members of the crossbenches. But I do want to draw to the attention of members the amendment that has been foreshadowed by Mr Berry in relation to the timeline for these papers to be presented to the Assembly. Mr Berry is foreshadowing that he will move an amendment setting 31 May as the time for the papers to be tabled.

If members support such a proposition, they will have the opportunity, should the information be of such a nature that it warrants it, to direct questions to the relevant Ministers and departmental officials during the estimates process. Quite clearly, the Government's amendments to make the tabling date the end of the financial year would put consideration of these documents completely outside consideration of the budget and are simply an attempt to avoid scrutiny.

MR SPEAKER: It being almost 12.30 pm, the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 74.

Sitting suspended from 12.25 to 2.30 pm


ACT Budget

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister. Twelve months ago the Chief Minister presented a budget that included a forward estimate for an operating deficit of $90m for 1999-2000. Since that time the Territory has received a windfall Commonwealth funding supplement of $85m, based on the good work of Mr Alan Thompson and others in the department. On those figures we expected to see in yesterday's budget a projected deficit of only $5m, but the 1999-2000 budget predicts an operating deficit of $64m. In 12 months the estimate has effectively been shown to be out by the best part of $60m. Can the Chief Minister say what this implies for her claim that we will be back in the black in the next financial year?

MS CARNELL: Boy, do I want this question. Mr Speaker, what it shows, without any doubt, is that those opposite can never get anywhere near government because they do not know the difference between general government funding and specific purpose funding. They do not know the difference. Specific purpose funding has to be used for guess what, Mr Speaker? For specific purposes. It cannot be taken off the operating loss. Woe, Mr Speaker. This is really accountancy 101. It is hard to believe that anybody who has sat in this place for more than five minutes does not know that. It is almost absolutely unbelievable that the leader of an opposition that plans to respond to the budget tomorrow does not know the difference between specific purpose funding and general government funding.

Mr Speaker, as I think we made clear yesterday, the extra money for general purpose funding from the Commonwealth Grants Commission was not $84m; it was $57.5m. The rest was specific purpose funding.

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