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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 4312 ..

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74, and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.32 to 2.30 pm.


MR SPEAKER: Before we proceed, I would just like to welcome visitors in the gallery from the ANU's graduate public policy program. A delegation has been to the Assembly before and met with members. This year's group will include people from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos and Thailand. Welcome.

Members: Hear, hear!

Questions without notice


MR SPEAKER: I remind members that the five-minute time limit in relation to answers will apply as of today.

Economy-Standard and Poors' rating

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, my question without notice is to the Treasurer. Yesterday, the rating agency Standard and Poors released their latest ratings for the ACT. The good news is that the highest local and foreign currency ratings were confirmed. Of concern to the territory, however, is the conclusion by Standard and Poors of what is described as a "structural deterioration in finances"and the comment that "the ACT government's budgetary policy has been expansionary, introducing a number of new programs for which the costs far outweigh extra revenue measures".

Treasurer, do you accept that the ACT faces a "structural deterioration in finances"? What are you and your government doing to resolve this problem?

MR QUINLAN: I guess it depends how you define "structural deterioration". It is, I think-excuse the pun-standard fare for rating agencies to sound some warning or other; otherwise they would appear to not necessarily have examined as closely as they might. It is likely that that warning would be in the vein of the economic rationalists that you would expect to be included in the complement of Standard and Poors raters.

We did see this press release yesterday, Mr Speaker; so we thought it might be a good idea if we rang Standard and Poors to find out what particular expansionary programs they were referring to. The answer came back: "Well, not in particular; just that you have spent more money."There seems to be an inference in the way that they have framed their warning that no government should enter a program unless it has revenue associated with it. We have entered into programs where the revenue might not necessarily justify the expenditure.

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