Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 2879 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
was saying to the committee that there was some movement in view on that matter on your part or on your officers' part.
Mr Parkinson responded, "No, there's been no movement at all," and retained the view that the proper and full picture of the territory's financial position demanded that both superannuation and other territory accounts be in the one bundle.
Mr Speaker, I think that is a significant exchange. As I have said earlier, the government response to recommendation 18 doesn't greatly illuminate me and perhaps others as to what the government intends to do about the future treatment of superannuation. I am not sure whether the Treasurer has given up the ghost on the changes he has been talking about or whether he intends to lick his wounds and go back into battle again. Perhaps he can tell us. But, either way, I think it is important that we understand where we are heading on this, that we will be able to be sure that the accounts are transparent and that we have a full picture in front of us. My view and the committee's view was that that is best achieved by way of keeping the present system but I will be happy to see what the Treasurer has in mind for how to advance this debate.
MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections) (6.14): Mr Humphries, I am sorry to tell you that there are a number of issues in the treatment of superannuation. One of those issues is the treatment of investment earnings, where the Auditor-General believes that they should be bundled up with the operating result of the territory and be declared as part of the year's operation. He and I disagree on that.
Mr Humphries: We've noticed.
MR QUINLAN: Yes, I am just making a point. He and I disagree on that and I have tried to explain why in this place. If you understand anything about a sinking fund you will know that the amount of contribution that we are making, and that the previous government made in part, to the superannuation investment account is an amount of capital which is designed to be invested to earn income to meet a payment at a later date. The amount that we are contributing is discounted in the anticipation of those earnings. So it is a sinking fund. You throw the money in there and you are going to get nothing back. Even though it will earn money, you are going to get nothing back because you are going to have to pay the employees. In my mind, if you are going to get nothing back you shouldn't actually be counting that interest. This is a point of difference I have with the Auditor.
But what is more important-and maybe a little knowledge is a dangerous thing; I'm not sure-is that the issue to which we were referring in relation to the Auditor having a difference is a separate process. From time to time the gross liability of the territory is reviewed by the actuaries so that we can find out, given changing circumstances and new information, what is a revaluation of our superannuation liability.
Mr Humphries: I don't think so. It wasn't the issue the committee was talking about.