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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 2068 ..

MR QUINLAN (5.01): I guess that this is the appropriate time for me to make a few comments in a general sense. I spoke earlier about the government's response to the report of the Estimates Committee. There are certain ritualistic processes that one can expect in this regard, but I do think that the language and the degree of implied accusation in the Chief Minister's response this time round went beyond that a little, given the real occurrences of the estimates process and the role that I played as chair; but this a house of politics and we are all adults. I do not think any of us is going to miss too much sleep over that process, but I do think that maybe the Chief Minister should have let his people go quietly, as they did within the committee, as opposed to making the claims as to their contribution that he did make.

The report itself does relate to the budget in the main, as you would expect. It does talk about some presentational matters. I do hope that after the dust has settled and we have vented our spleens, collectively, the government will look at the recommendations in the Estimates Committee's report, take note of them and maybe incorporate some of the recommendations into future budgets, should the government prevail at the next election, because some sensible things have been said there. They are not preconceived ideas of mine; they are ideas that have been adapted from the Auditor-General's comments in terms of financial statements and the need for commentary and explanations, because it is so easy to misuse figures, just as the government continues to misuse the so-called 1995-96 result of a $344 million black hole that I think was built in the spring of 1997.

It was in the spring of 1997, I think, that the Under Treasurer at the time, Mr Lilley, and the then Chief Minister and Treasurer, Mrs Carnell, sent off a set of accounts to the Auditor-General under the heading of a trial, I think they called it. I think it was called a trial set in order that we could be ready for the first real year of accrual accounting, 1996-97. The first thing to be said about 1995-96 is that it was the middle year of the Carnell government's first period in office. It was not Labor's at all; in fact, the Liberals had been in government for four or five months before the commencement of this particular year, but somehow the government is able to call it Labor's loss. That is a total untruth; that is a lie. It is not Labor's. It happened in 1995-96, which belonged to Mrs Carnell.

Mr Humphries: I rise to a point of order, Mr Speaker. Earlier today you ruled that use of the word "lie" was unparliamentary and I think Mr Quinlan should withdraw that.

MR SPEAKER: I have indeed. Please withdraw it, Mr Quinlan. You know that it is unparliamentary.

MR QUINLAN: I withdraw it. I seek your guidance, Mr Speaker. If someone says that 1995-96 was a year of Labor government and it was not and they ought to know that it was not, would that be a lie?

MR SPEAKER: It is simply incorrect, is it not?

MR QUINLAN: Is that as far as it goes?

Mr Moore: Are you going to assert that the Auditor-General was incorrect?

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