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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 4313 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

Let me tell this house that this government is interested in quite a number of programs that will not have an economic return. We are far more concerned with a social return and will continue to be so. There is not a great deal of concern in the government, let me say, as to what Standard and Poors have observed. They have acted by saying specific things that this government has done and shouldn't have done.

However, Mr Speaker, if those on the other side of the house thought that there were things that the government was doing and that they would exclude or reduce in some way should they come to power, I would love to hear from them. I think the people of the ACT would also love to hear from the opposition if they thought that, underlying Standard and Poors, there were some real changes that ought to be made and they would make them.

I leave that challenge on the table and repeat, in closing, that this government is far more interested in social return, community return, in many of its programs than it is in just returning a profit. You don't turn a profit on health services. You don't turn an immediate profit on education-you invest in it, and we are. You don't turn a profit on disability services at all in terms of monetary gain.

Government is far wider than one could infer from the Standard and Poors' view. If the opposition's view of government is in the same vein as Standard and Poors, I am sure the people of Canberra would like to know that.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Smyth?

MR SMYTH: Yes, Mr Speaker. Given that you are more interested in a community and social return, if Standard and Poors are right and you have overextended yourself-

MR SPEAKER: Preamble, Mr Smyth.

MR SMYTH: What programs will you cut to fund the community and social returns?

MR QUINLAN: We have, within the budgets that have been brought down in this place, a series of forward estimates. You can see what programs the government has in mind, where it expects to gain this revenue. If there has been any debate in relation to the budgets that have been brought down in this place, it is that they may be too conservative. There has been-at least on this side of the house; there hasn't been on the other side of the house, I don't think-a conservative approach in recent times. We have started the spendometer, Mr Smyth.

Mr Smyth: Standard and Poors said you're the spender, Mr Quinlan.

MR QUINLAN: Standard and Poors have rated the ACT as AAA, top rating. Members who have done their homework would be aware that other states around Australia are just struggling to get up to AAA ratings and are just arriving at them. The ACT is in good stead. If the opposition wants to lay the responsibility for having a AAA rating at the feet of this government, we are happy to accept it.

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