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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1564 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

It is about getting a sustainable economy so that we can spend the money where it is needed, for the people who need it most. That is what it is about, and that is why I am very proud to be associated with a very sensible budget.

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (10.16), in reply: Mr Speaker, a number of pretty unbelievable things have been said in the debate on the budget, and I am sure some more fairly unbelievable things will be said before this budget comes to the final vote.

Mr Berry: Not as unbelievable as the budget.

MS CARNELL: Mr Berry says, "Not as unbelievable as the budget". The fact is that this afternoon and this evening nobody has managed to come up with one thing wrong with the budget. Certainly, Mr Quinlan did raise a couple of things that he obviously did not understand very well. He appears to have a gross misunderstanding of accrual concepts. I suppose one could say he needs to go back and learn a little more about accrual accounting. When he was operating as a cash accountant, the approach he took may have been right, but it is simply not the case anymore.

Mr Quinlan should be aware that the funds statements he was talking about went out with the ark. All that Mr Quinlan seeks is contained within the cash flow statements. There is nothing in the funds statement that cannot be found in the financial statements in the budget papers.

Mr Stanhope: Tell us this without reading it to us.

MS CARNELL: I can, if you would like. Mr Quinlan needs to have a full briefing on these issues. Earlier I ran through with him the issue of investments in the CFU papers to explain to him that the increase in the investments that he has been speaking about over the last couple of days is not external money, money into paper, money into cash or shares at all. It is money invested into other parts of government. (Quorum formed) No cash has gone missing anywhere in this budget, as Mr Quinlan would like to say. The movement into the superannuation account is a $300m injection, less of course the annual accruing expenses. This is a fundamental part of accrual accounting.

Mr Quinlan also made some comments about how Victoria have reduced their burdening debts. You have to ask how Victoria has achieved the ends that they have achieved. They have done it by selling assets - disposing of electricity authorities, gas authorities, transport entities and so on. Victoria obviously had to pay off their debt because they had an incredibly high level of debt which put their whole credit rating at risk. That simply is not the case in the ACT.

Mr Quinlan also criticised the high levels of cash and liquid asset balances in the forward estimates, which it would appear he would prefer us to spend rather than keep them as assets against superannuation and accruing liabilities. This strikes me as an extraordinarily unusual approach to budgeting. We do have assets that we are keeping in our superannuation provision account and in other places, to balance our accruing liabilities generally in government, and that again is just good management.

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