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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (15 May) . . Page.. 1642 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

Before you get too excited, firstly, $12 million of that relates to a previous year's land sales. Secondly, it presumes there will be a recovery between today and 30 June in relation to our off-shore investments. The last assessment I have is that we are negative $20 million. Those estimates include an estimate of zero.

That is generally based on the phenomenon that is called window-dressing, where some companies, at the end of a financial year, buy very few stocks-sometimes at inflated prices-with a view to revaluing stockholdings upwards, ostensibly at market price. This is a phenomenon which I believe the Australian Stock Exchange is concerned about. I do not know whether that will happen again this year or not-we will have to wait and see. Secondly, there may well be recovery between now and the end of June. So we are running pretty well. By dint of the $12 million-unaccounted for the previous year but accounted for this year-we are running at about line ball. That is pretty well the case that we have seen over the last few months.

I move:

That the Assembly take note of the paper.

MR HUMPHRIES (Leader of the Opposition) (3.38): I thank Mr Quinlan for moving that motion. Mr Speaker, I note that the result for this year to date is estimated to be $18.5 million. In light of what we, on this side of the chamber, have said, it does not come as a great surprise that that is the case. I notice, from looking at the figures, that the result for the March quarter is a surplus of $31.3 million.

Mr Quinlan is telling the house that he is not sure about the $18 million-he is not sure whether we are going to sustain that. He obviously expects that, between March and June, there will be some decline in the bottom line.

If I might offer the benefit of my experience, the outcome in previous years was almost invariably that the result between March and June would improve, often very substantially. In fact, it was often in that period that the figures for the available revenue, in particular, would mount up in an almost dizzying way. From reading those figures, I would estimate that the end of year outcome is going to be above $18 million or even above $31 million, not necessarily below it.

I note Mr Quinlan's comment that this figure is due to a number of things. One is that he says it still depends on getting a nil return from our overseas investments. I do not know what the markets are going to do in the next few months-I do not know what the outcome will be. It would not surprise me if they were better than earlier forecasts, but that is a matter for the markets to work out. We cannot influence them much from our little vantage point in the ACT.

We have always made the point that overseas investments are one thing, but there are other factors as well which have a bearing on the ACT's bottom line-in particular, things like revenue. The ACT should be expecting extremely good revenue in a year in which our economy is booming. When the economy is booming, you expect better than normal results for revenue-nothing to do with overseas investments. That is why the ACT should look for a very healthy bottom line this year.

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