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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (18 February) . . Page.. 99 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

Members will recall that in the past Assembly, and even last year, Mr Smyth played John Howard to Gary Humphries' George W Bush in echoing misinformation in relation to past performances. I do not intend to rise to that, but I have to say-and I have said in this place before-that misinformation has been persistently peddled. It is about time for the standard of this place to be raised. It is a new start: there is a new leader of the opposition and a new shadow treasurer. Let's have a bit of an increase in the standard of information.

Things are tight enough in the ACT. You will have plenty to work with without manipulating the figures or providing misinformation about the past, let me assure you.

MR SMYTH (Leader of the Opposition): Mr Speaker, I seek leave to comment on the report.

Leave granted.

MR SMYTH: Mr Quinlan was absolutely correct: I quoted the wrong figure. Instead of pointing out that the deficit was $43 million across the total territory sector, I should have pointed out that the deficit is now $20 million. For that I do apologise.

But the point is that we have gone from a projected surplus of $6 million to a deficit of $43 million in the general government sector and across the territory to one of $20 million. That is a dramatic turnaround in six months, and that is the turnaround that this Treasurer has presided over. I think the December quarter statements will come as a surprise to the ACT community in a number of areas.

On the one hand, we see that, in the general government sector over the six months from 1 July 2002 to the end of the year, there has been an increase in revenue collected of nearly $65 million and an increase of expenses of $20 million-confirming that this is a very high taxing government. That leads to a surplus over the six months of $75 million or an increase of $45 million in the budget estimate. Those figures were out significantly, but in this case it has gone up.

On the other hand, we said the government was projecting a deficit in the general government sector for the full year now of nearly $43 million-$43 million in the red. That is a turnaround in six months of $49 million from the predicted surplus of $6 million.

Here we are at the halfway point in the financial year in a situation where revenue continues to grow strongly yet the government is projecting a substantial deficit at the end of June 2003. How can this be? Is the Treasurer presiding over a deterioration of the territory's financial position? The answer is yes.

Are there problems with the assumptions that have been made about the likely outcomes for different components of the general government sector of the ACT budget? We have to ask what happened during the first six months of this year.

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