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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (13 June) . . Page.. 1601 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

$344 million. I would love to know what the resignation means-whether it is resignation from the Assembly, resignation from the frontbench of the Labor Party, resignation as deputy leader of the Labor Party-

Mr Quinlan: All of the above.

MR HUMPHRIES: All of the above! Thank you very much. He was particularly sceptical of a claim that the operating position of the government had improved by $170 million in one year. He said on that date:

By their own budget, they say they turned $170 million of that in one year, the first year. That is not humanly possible. That figure beggars belief.

Mr Quinlan: No, your second year.

MR HUMPHRIES: I am quoting your words. You said it, Mr Quinlan. You repeated the claims on 3 May, when you brought the Auditor-General into the picture, by saying:

Mr Moore interjected earlier about the $344 million. There is a consistency here at least. The accounting treatments used back then are different from the accounting treatments used today and you get quite exaggerated differences between then and today as a direct function of that; but do not let the truth get in the way of a good line ... I will tell you this much, Mr Moore: the Auditor-General will be appearing before the Estimates Committee to discuss this topic in detail.

Mr Moore, I am sure, was trembling in his boots by that point. The Auditor-General did indeed appear before the Estimates Committee in the last few weeks. Listening to what the Auditor had to say and listening to what Mr Quinlan had to say in the Assembly in the preceding weeks, I expect that Mr Quinlan is a somewhat disappointed man. Let me quote what Mr Parkinson, the Auditor-General, had to say in defending the decision he made to verify the figure of $344 million for 1995-96. Talking about the reason there was an improvement between 1995-96 and 1996-97 of $170 million, a figure which he defended in the Estimates Committee, he had this to say:

The biggest reason for the improvement in the operating result between 1995-96 and 1996-97 was revenue. Expenditure stayed much the same, but there was a very big jump in revenue. As part of our 1996-97 audits, we looked for reasons why that revenue had increased. To my recollection, we were able to find sensible reasons for those increases. There were big increases in things like stamp duties and payroll tax because that was a very good year.

Mr Quinlan says that an improvement of $170 million was not humanly possible. The Auditor-General says that it was quite possible and, indeed, actually occurred. He came up with reasons why it had occurred-because of improvements in revenue.

Mr Quinlan: $91 million worth of extraordinary item.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I can understand why Mr Quinlan would want to interject and change the subject. But he was seeking a little bit of a kick along from the Auditor-General and he did not get that.

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