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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (14 February) . . Page.. 156 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Incidentally, that is what Mr Osborne's bill actually does. It says that that principle of sustainability needs to be a guiding principle for every government that brings down a budget. It talks about balancing liabilities against our capacity to meet them. It talks about achieving and maintaining levels of territory net worth that are a buffer against factors that may impact adversely on that network in the future. That has been a guiding principle for this government, and I think it ought to be a principle for every government that runs the territory.

Perhaps I have a narrow perspective on these things, but I think staying in the black, being able to pay for your services without having to borrow on a year to year basis, is worth doing. It has been a great detriment to the territory that until very recently we did operate in a deficit situation, a loss situation. We might argue, as Mr Kaine suggests. Mr Quinlan and I might argue about the size of the operating loss. No doubt we will have that debate at some stage, if not today, but I think we all would agree that getting rid of the operating loss is a good thing.

Mr Quinlan: Yep. All those in favour.

MR HUMPHRIES: Staying out of the reach of an operating loss is also a good thing. On that point perhaps we do not have such agreement. I heard Mr Quinlan say on the radio yesterday that he felt that from time to time deficits were justifiable. Well, I might agree if, as Mr Kaine postulated, there is an earthquake and half the territory is wiped out and we need to get a lot of money fast to rebuild it, but short of that, no, there is not justification for going back into loss again. We need to stay in surplus. We need to stay liquid. We need to remain capable of delivering services on a day to day basis without borrowing from future generations for the capacity to deliver those services.

Mr Quinlan: Simple but noble.

MR HUMPRHIES: It is a simple but true proposition, I hear Mr Quinlan say, so I am pleased to hear support for this exposition of the government's philosophy.

Mr Quinlan: Just get on with it, for God's sake.

MR HUMPHRIES: Right, okay. Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I commend the bill to the house, and I thank the Assembly for supporting it.

MR RUGENDYKE (4.58): I rise to wholeheartedly support my dear colleague Mr Osborne, and I am horrified at the derision cast about this place by Mr Kaine. I note that Mr Quinlan used in his amendment-

MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER: Compose yourself, Mr Rugendyke. You have the floor.

MR RUGENDYKE: I apologise. Mr Quinlan, in his amendment, uses the word "prudently" only once. I think his amendment might be worth while. I wholeheartedly support my colleague Mr Osborne.

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