Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1242 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
released a few weeks ago-again with a somewhat apologetic approach by the Treasurer-contains such wonderful descriptions to the ACT community as Actew Corporation having a total debt of in excess of $250 billion.
Mr Quinlan laughs that off, but it is possible that some citizens, who do not understand the background as well as he does, could look at that document and take it as gospel. It was sloppy and this is not the kind of small difference that Mr Quinlan described in question time today as marginal or fractional. There could have been factional differences as well, of course, with that party. I am talking about marginal or fractional differences between one set of figures and another. There is a pretty big difference between $250 million and $250 billion.
Mr Quinlan might be engaged in lots of fancy footwork to cover up the fact that there have been a few problems with this. The fact remains that there are now three separate from government comments on the commission of audit result, and that not one of them supports the contention made by the commission of audit that the territory is basically in a black hole.
He can rationalise one or two of them but I think all three constitute quite an exercise, quite a challenge-even for Mr Quinlan. The fact is that there is no excuse for a slash and burn budget in June. The territory's finances are in good shape. The territory's budget should be delivered with an optimistic, rather than pessimistic, frame of mind behind its preparation.
MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections) (4.02): Mr Speaker, I do not think we heard anything new there.
I will dismiss the typos first. I think that, if we are going to make a federal case out of typos, we are clutching at straws. In some of the tables in the commission of audit report, there were some quite crook figures-way out in 2005 or something. Yes, that was sloppy. Words have been exchanged on that. However, as Mr Humphries points out, that did not change the bottom line. So it does not, in fact, impinge upon the topic today. Neither do the typos that have been found in the consultation document-I do not know how many.
Let me address the Access Economics report first. I did talk about this in question time, because apparently the opposition, for want of something to talk about in question time, really went through quite a number of the elements of this debate in their questions, albeit that some of them did not know what they were talking about when they asked the questions.
The Access Economics report is based on figures supplied on 2 October. They are based on the figures you supplied, or those that you developed and presented. They are the figures Treasury sent over, ahead of the ABS evaluation of government financial statistics. Those figures were fairly long in the tooth. They did not incorporate some of the major changes identified by the commission of audit.