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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (14 February) . . Page.. 160 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

On the one hand we have Mr Smyth, who, I have to say, knows very little, making claims about the derelict years of Labor or whatever. At the same time, when we become concerned about public service cuts, we are reminded that Labor made public service cuts, or Labor made cuts here, or Labor made cuts there. Now, there are some contradictions in all that, and I guess that is just part of the game we play, but I do wish that we could elevate debate in this particular area a little above the level provided by Mr Brendan Smyth, who did not know what the projected surplus for this current year was when he was Acting Treasurer around Christmas time. So much for his qualifications. I would not put him in charge of the petty cash tin.

I will come back to the amendment. I think the words speak for themselves. We want optimum levels of net government assets. We do not want to be insolvent, but this is not about a company getting rich. This is about a financial operation optimising, managing prudently and applying the maximum amount of resources to the benefit of the community out there. That is the thrust of the elements of my amendment, and I do commend it to the house. I seriously commend it to the house. I am sure that Mr Osborne did some research and got his particular principles from some authoritative source. However, I am arrogant enough to think that this is something of an improvement as they apply in the ACT. I commend my amendment to the house.

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (5.15): Mr Quinlan, I think, was critical in the in-principle stage of this bill about the vagueness of the provisions in Mr Osborne's bill. He suggested that they were sort of too amorphous to be of any great use and would not tie anything down very much, but it seems to me, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, with great respect, that what Mr Quinlan's amendment does is dramatically fuzzy up Mr Osborne's bill. It, in fact, dramatically reduces the efficacy of his words and of the principles that he is laying out here to actually give anybody guidance about where budget-making and financial management should be heading.

Let me quote subsection 5 (b) in Mr Quinlan's proposed version of the bill. It says this:

When maximum levels of General Government Sector assets have been achieved, maintain a maximised position by assuring that, on average, over a reasonable period of time, the total operating expenses of the General Government Sector do not exceed that sector's operating revenue;

If you thought it was bad not to have specifics in the original bill, why are you so anxious to have even fewer specifics in your version of the bill, Mr Quinlan?

Mr Quinlan: Can I say I am concerned about the-

MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Mr Quinlan, you were heard in silence. I ask you to extend the same courtesy to other speakers in this house.


: Thank you, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker. The first principle that was proposed by Mr Quinlan is one which seeks to maximise the net asset position in the general government sector. The first question here is why only the general government sector? Why is the public trading enterprise sector excluded from this arrangement? Is it

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