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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (14 October) . . Page.. 3143 ..

MR MOORE: Yes, you are right. I will take that on notice.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Yes, Mr Moore said right at the beginning of his answer that he would take it on notice.

Budget Performances

MR QUINLAN: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Treasurer. The former Treasurer has lately been making much of a $344m operating loss in the 1995-96 financial year. She has made claims that the loss was inherited from Labor when it was, in fact, the first full year of her stewardship. In fact that figure was published about halfway through the term of the Third Assembly. It was the first of the budgets and annual reports published in accrual accounting format, an initiative commenced, I might add, by the Labor Government. Can the current Treasurer confirm that a very significant proportion of Mrs Carnell's budget blowout of $344m was caused by an abnormally high provision for superannuation? In fact, that was an abnormal item. Can the Treasurer confirm that Budget Paper No. 3 for 1996-97, at page 87, records the fact that the Carnell Government blew its own budget by $147m? Can the current Treasurer assure the Assembly that there were no other abnormal provisions made in the first year of accrual accounting that would make this figure a very, very poor choice for comparing performance since?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I can understand why Mr Quinlan would be anxious somehow to wipe the slate clean of what amounts to a stone around his neck as the ACT Labor shadow Treasurer when he realises that the financial position of the Territory was very much worse when Labor left office in 1995 than it is today. Mr Quinlan is quite right to say that the figure for 1995-96 was a figure within the period of the Carnell Government. You might be able to say on the strength of that knowledge, if nothing else was known, that therefore it must have been the creation of the Carnell Government.

However, Mr Speaker, you only need to look carefully at the evidence of changes in government outlays and government receipts in the period leading up to 1995-96 to realise that there were no dramatically significant changes in the Government's financial position prior to the 1995-96 financial year by the Carnell Government which would have led to a dramatic deterioration of the financial position prior to that financial year. Who knows what the figure was in March 1995 for the operating loss when Labor left office? No-one knows because at that stage we did not conduct our accounting on an accrual basis.

It is possible, I suppose, to go back and back-cast what that figure might be. Mr Quinlan might not be quite so enthusiastic about that exercise. It might cost a bit of money. I am sure he would find on this occasion that the cost would not be sustainable; that it would not be a good, economic use of the Territory's valuable resources. No doubt that would be his view if I put it to him that we could back-cast the Labor loss in 1994-95.

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