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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 2053 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

that. But that has been misinterpreted and exaggerated by the Chief Minister to the point of dishonesty.

Of course a report does not reflect the unanimous view. This report is the result of the scrutiny of a highly political document, a document that contains lies. Mr Hird referred to the great $344 million lie. The hyperbole and the self-praise of the government contained in the budget would amount to more words than are in the whole Estimates Committee report. It would be disingenuous to expect that all members of the Estimates Committee would say, "Oh, yes, that is good. We will be totally dispassionate and look at the budget and accept all of the self-praise that the government has included in this."

I have to say that I, as chair of the committee, was unable to forge consensus. At one stage, Mr Hird, I could not forge consensus with one person. We had at least one person on the committee who wanted a draft budget with revenue, expenditure, full revenue, full expenditure and a bottom line and at the same time was happy with the current system. I think we spent 15 to 20 minutes on that ping pong ball with a couple of members of the committee and got absolutely nowhere. We devolved to the ridiculous, the absurd.

Mr Hird: Half an hour, not 20 minutes.

MR QUINLAN: It reduced to the absolute absurd. How were you described? You were described as "the voices of reason". But the voices of the reason could not even agree amongst themselves.

Mr Humphries picked on a point about the committee trying to concern itself with the question of what is an appropriate level of budget surplus. The inclusion of this recommendation was the result of a contribution made by Dave Rugendyke. That opposition was Dave's.

Mr Humphries also claimed that my comments about superannuation were contrary to the advice of the Auditor-General. That was not contrary advice; it was qualified advice. There was a discussion with the Auditor-General, who accepted the possibility of separate treatment. He wanted to qualify it a bit-it was not black and white.

There was the usual claim about talking down the economy. Well, you will have to quote me on that, you will have to find that, because in fact I do not think the report does that. The report does say that the budget is based on optimistic projections but that is as far as it goes. I have stood in this place and in public forums and said that I think these claims are optimistic but I also think we will do a lot better than the experts at Access Economics and the Melbourne Institute have done. I have not really attacked anywhere the economy or talked down the economy. That is scurrilous stuff because it effectively accuses me of talking down the economy. Find it.

We were told that the report was "a litany of the chairman's prejudices". If it is a litany of my prejudices then that does not say much for the calibre of the people that the government sent to the committee. Virtually everybody who put in a contribution had their contribution incorporated in the report, but it still comes out as my document. Harold, how could my prejudices not prevail if one government representative would not even come to the deliberative meetings to talk about the report?

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