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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 8 Hansard (24 August) . . Page.. 2282 ..

MR SPEAKER: Chief Minister, I think Mr Hargreaves has been incorrectly identified. I think it was somebody else.

MS CARNELL: Okay. Well, it was Mr Corbell. Mr Corbell was wrong with regard to consultancies. We have reduced consultancy expenditure quite significantly since we came to government. Mr Speaker, it was not - - -

Mr Corbell: So we had better not talk about J. Walter Thompson and two $50,000 amounts, or maybe ABN AMRO.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Corbell, you have not asked your question, but if you keep this up you will not have an opportunity to do so.

MS CARNELL: So it was not a mistake. We achieved the exact purpose by moving Treasury into Chief Minister's. The outcomes that we attempted to achieve were achieved. As I said in reply to the last question, the other reason for pulling Treasury into Chief Minister's was to address the absolute financial debacle that the Labor Party had left for us. They had used up all of the consolidated fund, there was no money in the bank, and we had a $344m operating loss.

Mr Speaker, I would be very happy to speak for a very long time on the mess that those opposite left. Over the period since then we have moved the budget back into the black as of next year. This year the operating loss will be under $10m. We have brought it down from $344m to $10m in 41/2 years, and have brought about financial reform, accrual accounting and outputs-based budgeting. That strikes me as calling for a pretty big tick.

Mr Speaker, I remember when we first started the reform process. When we moved Treasury over to Chief Minister's I think I commented on a few occasions that with the sorts of reforms we had in mind we would end up being a model for other States; that in fact States would come here to see how financial reform was done. In fact, that has happened. Regularly we have people from treasuries in other States come to the ACT to look at how our Treasury has operated. Mr Speaker, that has been done. What we need to do now is bed down the system and make it achieve all of the benefits that I and Mr Humphries know the new system can achieve for the ACT over the medium to long term, and make sure that our forward estimates - move the ACT into the black - are never undermined again by those opposite. We must never get back to an operating loss in the city. That is what the move is about.

The reason we are now moving Treasury out of Chief Minister's is to allow the bedding down of that process; to get on with the job of making sure that the benefits that we put in place over the last few years are maximised in the future in the interests of the people of Canberra.

MR WOOD: I have a supplementary question. Chief Minister, will any new or upgraded executive positions be created for the new department; and, if so, at what cost? Further, from what part of the current budget will the allocation for the new department be sourced?

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