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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (14 February) . . Page.. 122 ..

MR HUMPHRIES: I know that. I will come to your question, Mr Quinlan. Just be patient. When I bring down a budget, as I will in May this year, I will be predicting what the surplus for the territory will be-and it will be a surplus-for the year ending June 2002. With the best will in the world, with the best crystal balls that you might produce in this day and age, you cannot be very accurate about those sorts of projections. You can certainly make a goal. You project what you are going to do with those figures. The ACT's experience in the last few years has been that our estimates have been reasonably conservative. In fact, we have had some much better outcomes than we have projected. I would much rather have that result than have much worse outcomes than have been predicted. So there is a conservatism in those figures, but nonetheless they are there.

We have taken to tabling on a monthly basis the fluctuations in those figures as they appear to us, based on the movements that affect the government-things like financial decisions that are made in government to spend on new projects or new initiatives in the course of the financial year. There are movements in national financial and economic indicators, and there are movements in the value of our investments, many of which are held overseas. As I think Mr Quinlan was saying in this house just yesterday, when the value of those investments moves up and down or when the exchange rate moves up and down it has an impact on the ACT. So our figures have moved around.

Mr Quinlan: It does not stop you patting yourself on the back when they go up, does it?

MR HUMPHRIES: You quoted my press release of November last year. My press release did not say there was going to be a surplus of $35 million. It said that there could be a surplus of $35 million. Mr Quinlan has the release in front of him. Have I accurately quoted myself in that release, Mr Quinlan? Mr Quinlan finds something to amuse himself with rather than answer my question, so the answer to my question is yes.

We have done the decent thing by putting on the table a monthly financial report which gives a month-by-month projection of the position for the end of the year. As Treasurer, I projected in May of last year a surplus for 2000-01 of $4.2 million, and I am confident I will deliver that to the ACT community. In fact, I am confident I will deliver more than a $4.2 million surplus. That is my prediction at this time. One is always the victim of forces much larger than the mere ACT government. Nonetheless, that is my prediction. That is what I think we will achieve.

One of the things that have contributed to the decline in the earlier estimate is the decision to fund pay increase for nurses in the ACT system. As you know, nurses at Calvary have accepted the government's offer, and there is $2.9 million worth of pay increases to be factored into the budget. There has also been a decision to change the arrangements for the funding of InTACT. Members will recall that concern was expressed at the Estimates Committee about the fact that the overhead costs of InTACT were being borne by individual agencies. They have been moved to the central budget, and that reflects adversely on the bottom line to the extent of $6.2 million. There is additional funding for the GMC 400, which has been announced before, of $1.5 million, and there are movements in the value of the ACT's superannuation investments overseas.

Those are the reasons, but the bottom line is what we bring down at the end of this financial year as our surplus. I say again that I believe it will be no less than the amount we have indicated in our budget.

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