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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 1564 ..

Labor government's commitments

Ministerial statement

Debate resumed from 11 December 2001, on motion by Mr Stanhope:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

MR SMYTH (3.45): Mr Speaker, on behalf of the Liberal Party, I welcome the opportunity to address the Chief Minister's ministerial statement of 11 December last year. Some five months and three days later it is interesting to reflect on what the Chief Minister promised and what has been achieved. What was promised was much, and what has been achieved is significantly less.

The statement went through what the Chief Minister believes Labor have to offer the people of the ACT and how they will achieve that. He started with the classic opening gambit:

That timetable will depend in part on the state of the books. What is really in the cupboard? That will be revealed by the audit process my colleague Ted Quinlan has put in place.

It is interesting that Mr Quinlan has put that process in place. I would like to reflect briefly on that opening paragraph by reading from the Canberra Times editorial of Friday, May 10. Referring to Mr Quinlan's reading, it states:

The reading was a misreading. The commission took a snapshot of the cash positions of returns on investments as at October 31. That should not have been done in the context of an accrual system. If it had not been done, the return would have been substantially high-but perhaps not as high as the Liberals suggest.

The truth probably lies somewhere between the Labor's estimate of a deficit of $5 million and the Liberals' estimate of a surplus of $58 million. Suffice to say that the Liberals left Labor with an operating surplus. After six years of government the Liberals turned the finances of the Territory around from chronic deficits to projected surpluses to reduce outstanding debt. Several more years of surpluses are still needed to expunge the debt incurred by the Follett Labor Government ...

It then mentions the Alliance government before 1995. It goes on to say:

The test is now upon Treasurer Ted Quinlan to persuade his colleagues that if there is a choice between breaking election promises and an irresponsible running-up of Budget deficits, the former is preferred. In doing so Labor might well like to blame the bare cupboard left by the Liberals, but such a claim would carry little substance.

It is interesting to put the Chief Minister's statement of 11 December in the context of that opening gambit. The Chief Minister went on to say:

One thing is certain: my government's commitments will be delivered by accountable government that is conducted in the most open manner possible.

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