Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 5240 ..
MRS DUNNE (continuing):
We constantly hear people saying, "Why should I bother telling the government what I think? It never takes any notice of me. If I do so, it builds me up, gives me some sort of hope and then tears down that hope."That is what the government did in relation to the community planning forums. There is no trust between the public and the government. The people for whom this minister was planning have abandoned him because they believe he has abandoned them.
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 12.30 to 2.30 pm.
Questions without notice
MR SMYTH: My question without notice is addressed to the Treasurer. Treasurer, the Auditor-General has released his report on financial audits for the year 30 June 2003. The Auditor-General has again qualified Actew's financial statements, and we are aware that any such qualification is a most serious matter. The reason for this continuing qualification of Actew's financial statements relates to the investment that Actew has in TransACT.
Given that the ACT government has full ownership of Actew and fully meets the test of having a controlling interest, why does the ACT government account for TransACT in the way proposed by the auditor, while Actew, a company wholly owned by the ACT government, does not comply with the approach proposed by the auditor?
MR QUINLAN: I thank Mr Smyth for the question. I think this is a longstanding difference that goes back a few years. There are sorts of accounting opinions at 20 paces between the Auditor-General and those belonging to Actew. Actew books incorporate TransACT at a valuation based on its accounting opinion of what is reasonable, given that Actew does not have a controlling interest in TransACT. Mr Smyth would recall that, for some unknown reason, at some time when Actew was being restructured, Actew ended up with 24.9 per cent of TransACT. Had it been 25 per cent, it would have had the power of veto over many of the decisions that might befall TransACT. So, by some stroke of idiocy in the past, the controlling interest-or any influential interest effectively-in TransACT was parlayed away.
So given that Actew does not have a controlling interest in TransACT, its treatment is appropriate, and, given that its treatment is appropriate, and as Actew's valuation is incorporated into the territory's balance sheet, the territory's balance sheet then becomes appropriate as a consequence.
MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. Treasurer, what are you doing to actually resolve the issue?
MR QUINLAN: You will find from time to time opinions that vary. The Auditor-General's opinion has to be respected, but it is, in many cases, an opinion. In particular, I refer to the other major qualification that the auditor gave our statements in relation to superannuation valuation. In fact, the Auditor-General of today is objecting to a system