Page 1073 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 16 March 2005

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Mr Pratt needs to be held to account for his actions. He is scaremongering. He is playing on the fears of a community that has experienced a devastating fire in the recent past. As an elected member of the Legislative Assembly, he should have more responsibility than that. He should apologise to officers of the RFS, the fire brigade—especially those in the communications centre, who have now been brought into disrepute—and the people of the ACT.

MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Why was a white alert radio call on the primary radio net not responded to?

MR HARGREAVES: I will say this yet again, because I think that Mr Pratt’s hearing aid must have been turned off. I told him that the call came through on the VHS radio system, which is not used by people who have become operational. That was on the trunk radio network that the reports were received. The 000 was responded to. In fact, the appliance got to that particular fire well under the required time and it was put out.

Mr Pratt asked why we did not respond to a radio system that was not in operation at the time. The radio system was not turned off, but there were 50-odd people concerned about this fire, and they were attended to; the community concern was attended to. The original report of the fire was responded to. As far as I am concerned, the people at comms centre and all the people involved in this fire did an exemplary job. Mr Pratt really ought to check his facts and perhaps even get some better understanding of how emergency services in this town work, or Mr Smyth ought to deal with him.

Budget forecasts

MR MULCAHY: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Treasurer. In the 2004-05 budget, forecasts are given for future years for GST revenue, specifically $689.6 million in 2005-06, $724.3 million in 2006-07 and $760.3 million in 2007-08. You recently stated that likely interest rate changes were factored into the budget and, therefore, the predictions of growth in GST revenue were sound.

Do you stand by these recent comments that you factored the possibility of changes in interest rates into the 2004-05 budget? And will you confirm that the prediction of further growth in GST revenue in the budget is fundamentally sound?

MR QUINLAN: I think I have been misquoted, Mr Speaker. I don’t think I said, “I stand by the GST.” I certainly did say that we had factored an interest rate increase into the budget. That was a prediction that has turned out to be a sound prediction. But I don’t think I ever attached that to predictions for the GST.

What happens is that the predictions of GST are done by Treasury. Every year there is a treasurers council. Every year the state treasurers ask for an update from Treasury. Every year the federal Treasurer refuses to provide the latest update, even thought the states are going through their budget processes. It is a set piece that is played out. Every year the new GST predictions are incorporated in the federal parliament. The exception occurred last year, when there was an election and the federal government was required to furnish the parliament with an economic update. They did. Some of the figures were then used in our pre-election update and our half-yearly review since.

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