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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 5 Hansard (3 May) . . Page.. 1460 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

I still do not have the feeling that we are getting a budget that is the result of a long-term view. This is obviously a budget about getting re-elected. Everyone has already said that. I do not need to say it again. I am concerned that there will not be the capacity to develop and improve some of the good initiatives that have been presented. As Mr Humphries has said several times today, recurrent funding of programs is quite a different matter from the one-offs, and the capacity to sustainably support the intervention/prevention focus that they are finally and belatedly bringing into their policy approach is in question. In estimates I am hoping I will be able to unpack the rest of the detail more efficiently.

MR QUINLAN (4.08): Last year, in speaking on the budget, I think I observed that the ACT economy at the time was in very good shape. In fact I congratulated the Treasurer on it being a good year to be Treasurer. The economy had been boosted by Y2K expenditure within the public sector, GST preparation within the tax office, a high level of expenditure on recruitment in the tax office and the flow-throughs from that, the construction of the National Museum being well under way and boosting the building industry, and a generally more buoyant national economy.

I am since warmed by the fact that that little collection of boosts to the economy has been recognised and repeated since by Access Economics and as recently as yesterday by Professor Tim Brailsford in assessing the budget of today. I also record for the Assembly's benefit that there was a concession that that was the case in the briefing on budget parameters for this year that was given to the Select Committee on the 2001-2002 Budget late last year, prepared under the name of the Treasurer. It appeared at the hearing that he was not aware of the detail of the submission that he signed, but it had been prepared by his department.

I also observed last year that in many of its claims the government was making a virtue out of necessity. There was a fair bit of that in last year's budget, and there is a continuation of that kind of exaggeration and hyperbole in this one. I guess you can expect that to some degree from any government, but I would like to go on record as saying that if this government was as good with financial management as it is with PR we really would be genuinely well off, and well off for the indefinite future.

I had made an issue of the exaggerated claims of financial management over the years, and I have a simple challenge for the government and for the Treasurer. In his own document, The 2001-2002 budget at a glance, there is a graph that shows the dramatic improvement from 1995 onwards in the first year.

Mr Moore: That one?

MR QUINLAN: Yes, that one. All I want to know is just a few details of how that improved by $173.1 million in one year, because that is the claim-an improvement of $173.1 million in one year.

Mr Moore: Have a look at 1998-99 and 1999-2000. It is a similar amount.

MR QUINLAN: No, that is all I need to know at this stage. If that can be explained-

Mr Moore: Ted, you have to resign. If you have any sense of self you will resign.

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