Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (11 April) . . Page.. 1012 ..
MR CORNWELL: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Treasurer, Mr Quinlan. I refer to the Canberra Times of 23 March this year, after the state and territories treasurers meeting. You are quoted as saying:
Although two million does not seem much in a two billion budget, most expenditure was unavoidable. Only about 10 per cent was unavoidable over the short-medium term, so in this context, it was significant.
Can you advise the Assembly which areas you consider fall within that 10 per cent? You cannot? I will ask a supplementary question, if you like.
MR SPEAKER: You get a supplementary after.
MR QUINLAN: I will explain what I meant. I have to join with Mr Stanhope in querying the brain process behind your questioning process, which is: "We are going to trap you with silly stuff."
This is a general statement. Recognising the fact that the ACT government operates at both state and local level, there are a huge number of services that the government must run every day. We must have a police force and we must have all of the city services which fall within-
Opposition members interjecting-
MR QUINLAN: Excuse me! Do you want an answer or not? Do you want to hear what I am driving at, or do you want me to say-tell me what you want me to say! See if I will cop it or not. I am just telling you.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Quinlan, do not bait them. Do not ask them questions. They are sure to give you an answer.
MR QUINLAN: Because of the way the question was framed, I do not know exactly what he wants. I am trying to give the message that I was trying to communicate. The message that I was trying to communicate is that at any given time, an ACT government of any colour, for the short and mid-term, does not have $2.2 billion of discretionary expenditure. There are so many things it must do. When you start adding those up, it is highly likely you will find that the discretion a government might have, at any given time, would be less than 10 per cent of the overall budget. That is all I will say.
Mr Humphries: He is asking what that 10 per cent is.
MR QUINLAN: A lot of that 10 per cent will be at the edge of the other 90 per cent.
Mr Humphries: That is very specific, isn't it?
MR QUINLAN: I was not being specific, you fool! Can I be specific about some time when I was not being specific? Get off it!