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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (14 February) . . Page.. 121 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

with TransACT's broadband cabling it will be possible to get on-line video. There is no technology that I know of today anywhere in Australia which is sophisticated enough to allow you to get on-line video anywhere, but it will be possible here in Canberra very soon. That is a great innovation, and one which is very exciting. No other community has gone as far as we have in developing it. In some other places limited attempts have been made to follow suite. I understand that in Perth a roll-out of broadband cable is just beginning in certain parts of the inner city, but the concept and the scale are entirely different from what is being proposed in the ACT.

I do not purport to be an expert in the technology involved here, but I am very firmly of the view, based on the advice given to me, that this is extremely exciting, very dynamic, cutting-edge technology which will, potentially, have great spin-offs for shareholders in TransACT, and included among those will be the ACT community.

MR OSBORNE: With all due respect to the Chief Minister, I value my friend's judgment on this technology over his, but I am not an expert either so I will have to do some more work on it. I have a supplementary question. In the information you provide, Chief Minister, could you provide not just the upfront costs but also how much Actew has spent overall, whether it be in the roll-out or anything else it has spent on TransACT? Could you provide us with that figure, and any projections it has about what it will spend in the future?

MR HUMPHRIES: I will provide as much information as I can. I do not know to what extent the investment that has been made by TransACT is still a matter of their commercial interest being protected as they roll that out. I will not jeopardise TransACT's commercial position. I will provide Mr Osborne with all the information I can in answer to his question.

Budget surplus

MR QUINLAN: My question is to the Treasurer. Treasurer, yesterday you tabled the consolidated financial management reports of November and December 2000. November showed a projected surplus of $35.5 million, and I recall that in November you put out a press release full of self-adulation for the better-than-expected result. By December that better result had evaporated and the projected surplus had declined to under $6 million. I saw no press release confessing to a below-par performance. Can you enlighten the Assembly as to the reasons for the volatility, given that these variations follow a financial year in which you estimated the yield of a small deficit, but it was reported at the end of the year that we had provided a surplus of over $80 million. Is our government in control of our economy?

MR HUMPHRIES: I would love to be able to make an estimate at the beginning of a financial year-in fact, before the beginning of a financial year, when budgets are usually brought down-of what is going to happen by the end of a financial year and be absolutely accurate about it.

Mr Quinlan: These are one month apart.

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