Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2320 ..
There is some discussion about cycle and the Treasurer's love of creating his own economic cycle-which is probably being wound back to coincide with the electoral cycle. It is important that in using terms like this, we are not inventing economic terms but are using them as wisely as we can.
Overall, I believe Treasury does a fairly good job. There are some concerns about the low estimates for things like growth in the CPI, but that might be a Treasurer's call. I am still worried at the true state of the surplus or the deficit. What is the real position of the ACT? The final position for this year affects the start position for next year. It affects the cash that is retained. If some of your growth is understated, it will mean that, instead of a deficit, as expected, we will actually be in surplus.
That affects the decisions of those in the community who watch the budget and are truly affected by the budget-and that is most of the community. It also has an effect on confidence. If you are saying that, at the top of the cycle, with all the revenue that it could possibly gather and has gathered and the growth in revenue it has had, the ACT needs to go into deficit next year, that cannot but have an effect on confidence. Confidence is important. After the disasters of 1991 and 1995, it took us six or seven years to get that confidence back up and the economy rolling again. I would hate to see that shattered.
Supposedly, the reason for the deficit next year was originally the government's desire to get into land servicing. This year we found out that it was because of unexpected incomes and unexpected expenditures. The shifting story does not lead to any confidence either. It is important that at some stage in this debate the Treasurer will release the true figures.
Of course, 45 days after 30 June we will get the updated quarterly figures and that will be interesting. We know his numbers are not to be trusted, simply because they shift and change so much. If the Treasurer really wanted to stick to the government's election commitment of greater honesty, greater openness, greater transparency and greater accountability, he would release those figures to us this evening before this debate continues. Of course, we will not be seeing those figures.
MS TUCKER(5.07): I won't talk a lot on this line, as most of my comments on Treasury matters are also pertinent to other lines such as housing and the environment. Suffice to say that even Treasury needs to include itself in the triple bottom line matrix, and imagining that the environmental and social costs are matters for other departments rather misses the point.
It is worth making some brief comments here about the bushfire levy. I understand that the Treasurer was not aware that the Greens would have supported this levy. The fact that I had said we were looking at it and had asked for information on the cost to the territory of the bushfire might have given cause to the Treasurer or his staff to ask if there was any way they could assist us in our deliberations.
In fact, a very strong message from the Greens membership and from the community, which includes victims of the fire, was that the levy was a reasonable impost that was well enough supported across the community, particularly taking into account the awareness that exists in the community of the unmet need in so many service areas.