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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 60 ..

ACT financial position

MR HARGREAVES: My question, which relates to historical accuracy and fiscal enlightenment, is directed to the Treasurer, Mr Quinlan. The latest issue of the St George Bank's Trends publication contains an article that considers the ACT financial position. The article, titled "Good luck and good management turn around the ACT budget", poses the question speculatively. Can the Treasurer inform the Assembly what credence was given by the article to the administration of the territory's finances?

MR QUINLAN: Thank you, Mr Hargreaves, for the question. Mr Speaker, I guess the response to this question follows on from the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition in his attempt to try to paint a picture of the rosy economy that this government inherited. Let me first say that a year and a half ago, maybe nearly two years ago, when budgets were brought down I made the remark that it was a good year to be Treasurer-as was 2001, although things have changed somewhat.

The import of your question, Mr Hargreaves, which deserves a direct answer, is: what did the article authored by Access Economics in the Trends magazine say? In fact, it says:

No doubt those who have governed the Territory over recent years would prefer to trumpet their part in the development of a surplus, but in this case the result is as much a result of good luck as good management.

Vindication is nice occasionally, particularly from Access Economics. I have made those statements over the last year and a half. Before the last election we heard the former government trying to delude the public as to the condition of the economy they took over. It turned out to be self-delusion. Now we see them trying to delude the public as to the economy they left behind. I think the independent observation is that it has been more a case of good luck.

MR HARGREAVES: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Since the former government did not play a significant role in the turnaround of the ACT budget position, what reasons did the article ascribe to the territory's strong financial position?

MR QUINLAN: The article went on to talk about things that have been previously identified. It said that the ACT commenced self-government with a strong debt position and a AAA credit rating, which it has held since. I might add something that the article does not mention. As I recall, transitional funding was expended, even though there have been some attempts over time to create myths in relation to cash positions and expenditure.

The territory certainly has benefited from stamp duty on conveyancing. There has been quite a conscious pull forward of housing demand by the Commonwealth government. Only time will tell whether we will pay for that somewhere down the line. Also, in recent times sales of Commonwealth property have brought in additional funding. There have been a number of federally funded projects that have kept the economy moving.

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