Page 4736 - Week 15 - Tuesday, 13 December 2005

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question on notice. With a bit of luck, I will be back before the end of the day with an answer to Mrs Burke.

MRS BURKE: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. The minister might also, in that answer, expand and tell me how these people will now not become prisoners in their own homes.

MR HARGREAVES: I will happily find the answer to the substantive question but I am not going to be drawn into a piece of hysterics such as that the supplementary question invokes.

Capital works

MR MULCAHY: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Treasurer. Treasurer, according to the September 2005 capital works progress report, total funds available for capital works in 2005-06 have been revised down from $314 million to $239 million, a fall of $75 million. Will that $75 million not spent this year on capital works be sufficient to fund the blowout in current expenditure?

MR QUINLAN: That is a hard question to answer. After some of the questions Mr Mulcahy has asked in this place since coming here, I thought, “Hello, we have had at least some improvement in understanding fundamentals.” You have to understand the essential difference between operating, capital expenditure and cash.

Mrs Dunne: We understand that.

MR QUINLAN: Why don’t you tell him? If you have a capital program that is downsized for the year, what is earmarked for that capital still depends on whether or not all of those projects are intended to be carried out over the longer term. That is when you know whether the funds are there or not. Even so, the funds not spent on capital will not migrate into the operating statement. It does not work like that. I used to tutor in accounting but I must be a bit out of touch. I am finding it a bit difficult to make it sound reasonable and clear that operating is counting your ongoing expenditures—day in and day out—and capitals are the “onces” and that that program can be set for a period of time, delayed, accelerated or whatever. It will not change unless you change the actual composition of the capital program or the cost of the individual projects within it. That money will still be spent. That is the best I can do with the question, mate. I am sorry.

MR MULCAHY: Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. Treasurer, thank you for that most lucid response. What is your revised estimate of the operating loss for 2005-06?

MR QUINLAN: At this point in time I do not have it. I do not do it on a day-to-day basis. We do not have a barometer operating. It is not wise to do so because of the volatility in some of the figures you have.

Opposition members interjecting—

MR QUINLAN: I think the immediate response to my saying that underscores what I said in answer to the first question. There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding

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