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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 5 Hansard (3 May) . . Page.. 1437 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

the figure you used this morning. Less the superannuation liability, which is less than $1.5 billion, you have nearly a spare $500 million.

Are you aware that the balance sheet for 30 June 2005 in your own budget says that employee entitlements exceed $2.2 billion? Given that the single item, employee entitlements, in the balance sheet for 2005 is in excess of $2.2 billion, and your own press release says our total cash investment is $1.9 billion, will you still be happy to see other candidates or other parties during the election campaign making further commitments because they can liquidate the investment assets held?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, no, of course I would not be, because it would be irresponsible to run down the territory's assets in that way. The point I am making, Mr Speaker, is that the territory does not have a problem with its cash position. If it did have a problem with its cash position, which it will not, under this government at least, it will not need to dip into that kind of reserve in order to be able to fund its requirements. If the territory was faced with a cash crisis, not a recurrent crisis but a cash crisis, obviously you would liquidate a readily liquidatable asset such as a short term investment in order to be able to produce the cash you need to carry on. It does not detract from the requirement to have a recurrent position which is sustainable into the future.

This is the very problem you have with "Working Capital". You were funding recurrent promises-Mr Berry is sitting on the backbench over there-from your cash position. Mr Speaker, we know what that produces. It produces an unsustainable basis for operating. We know that Mr Quinlan is interested in the cash position because we know what happened the last time Labor was in office with a cash position. I have a table here showing what the ACT's cash balances were over the period between July 1990 and June 1995. Look how those figures go down, down, down, down, down, down to virtually nothing at the time of the election. The territory's cash reserves were virtually gone.

Mr Quinlan might well like to fund his promises from cash reserves, but once you have spent the cash it is gone. No rational budgeter will use their case to fund recurrent programs. Cash is fine to fund things like capital works. Yes, it is a one-off cost. You meet that cost. There is no recurrent cost except for the underlying cost of maintaining the asset, which hopefully you build into your recurrent base. But if Mr Quinlan is talking about funding programs from cash, then he has made a very serious mistake. I look forward to his party promising that for this election, because that will produce another "Working Capital" fiasco which my party will be very happy to point out to the ACT electorate.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Quinlan, do you have a supplementary?

MR QUINLAN: I see. So it is okay for the government, okay for you this morning but not okay for anybody else. It sounds fair. Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question.

MR SPEAKER: We could do without the preamble. Please ask your supplementary.

MR QUINLAN: It is a supplementary in a way, Mr Speaker, in as much as Mr Humphries-

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