Page 4415 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 22 November 2005

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MR QUINLAN: The government will return the budget to surplus over the next couple of years. That is the intention. We will do it according to the standard accounting processes. The territory’s balance sheet is in very strong shape. We have just had Standard and Poor’s assessment of a AAA plus credit rating. I understand that Moody’s have also rated the ACT. We do not subscribe to the Moody’s rating agency. We are reviewing whether or not we should. I understand that their rating of the condition and prospects of the territory is also at the peak.

MR MULCAHY: Thank you, Treasurer. Do you seriously believe that an increase in returns from superannuation investments and flooding the market with land sales will get your government out of trouble?

MR QUINLAN: That is a question based on a falsehood, an exaggerated premise, which is not unusual in this place, of course. I don’t think you could claim that we are flooding the market with land sales. The premise of today is that we are flooding the market with land sales. Even Standard and Poor’s are prepared to accept the inclusion of land sales in the ACT accounting as reasonable. Given the position that the ACT is in—having available land and the prospect of a continuous stream of land sales—it would seem to be commonsense, a rare commodity from time to time, to allow land sales to be included.

In terms of superannuation: yes, there is debate about superannuation, but you cannot just say, “Take all the earnings on superannuation investments out,” because the Liberals want to see a bad bottom line; you have to account for the liability that is growing each year. You know that you are investing with the intention of building a fund to meet those liabilities. A little bit more sophistication is going to be required than Mr Mulcahy is injecting into the debate now. I hope that wasn’t too confusing.

Emergency Services Authority

MR PRATT: My question is to the minister for emergency services. There was an advertisement on 15 November for a position in the ESA “to provide analysis on the identification of financial and resource anomalies”. Minister, what financial and resource anomalies have been discovered within the ESA? Why does a special position need to be created to control what are obviously spiralling costs within the ESA?

MR HARGREAVES: I think that it should be noted that it is Mr Pratt’s straw man that says that there are obviously spiralling costs. I reject the notion of spiralling costs, for the record. Mr Pratt has got it wrong yet again. He could not organise a conga line at a Christmas party, that bloke. The ad to which Mr Pratt refers pertains just to the normal recruitment processes when an officer is leaving the services and needs to be replaced. There is nothing insidious about it.

Mr Pratt searches around. He looks up the positions vacant column, trying to find a job for himself after the next election. He is searching early. Good luck to him; he is going to need all the help he can get. He just wanders through the paper, looking up the ads for job vacancies, thinking, “What mischief could I make out of this? What conga line of advertisements can I find in this newspaper?”

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