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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1243 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

In relation to superannuation investments, for example, at 30 October this territory was $108 million worse off than it expected to be. This was measured at 31 October. Apparently you do not measure in months that start with "O"-or something. I do not know. There did not seem to be a great deal of logic as to why you would not take a measurement in October, but you would take one in December.

I had already asked the previous government, while they were in government before the election, about the sensitivity of their figures to investment fluctuations. We had seen the government previously make windfall gains on investment and commit them and spend them. The losses made on our investments this year are not all the result of a spectacular event on 11 September.

It is quite clear that early in the previous year-a year ago-conventional wisdom was that the international markets, particularly the American equities markets, were overvalued. Those markets had already started to adjust considerably before September 11.

Before the election, I made the commitment to conduct a commission of audit. I might make a mistake here and there, but I would not be silly enough to make a commitment like that unless I was firmly convinced that we were not getting the true picture and that I would only get the true picture by producing a commission of audit after government. In politics, you do not ask a question unless you have a rough idea of the answer.

This was an exercise in saying, "We need the truth. We need an assessment of the economic position we inherited." The only time to take that was at the time we inherited it. Effectively, the new government was declared around the end of October. That seemed to be a logical time. It remains, quite clearly, the logical time for measuring the state of the economy at that point.

Of course, there may have been some difficulties and fluctuations. You will read, on page 29 of the commission of audit report, that allowance was made for that. Otherwise the commission of audit would be talking about a deficit of something like $50 million. However, a sensible estimate was made, and that estimate has so far been borne out by events. We are still $20 million worse off in the capital value of our investments and returns than is incorporated into this document. That is a serious position to be in. I do not know how, Mr Humphries, you can make light of the fact that that is not a serious loss.

Mr Humphries: It has not yet materialised.

MR QUINLAN: You budgeted for a $63 million return, and we are not going to make that. It does not matter? Well, this is a serious event.

Mr Humphries: It has not happened yet. Lighten up.

MR QUINLAN: Okay. To return to Access Economics, the basis for their assessment is GFS-government financial statistics. It does not even claim to be a set of accounts. That, as I said in question time, effectively does not take into account-particularly if you talk about only surplus, deficit and cash position-provision for accruing liabilities.

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