Page 4914 - Week 15 - Thursday, 15 December 2005

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Sitting suspended from 12.30 to 2.30 pm.

Questions without notice

Capital works projects

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, in the Auditor-General’s report on the 2004-05 financial audits, which was tabled this week, the auditor noted that the overall cash flow position in the ACT in 2004-05, after taking into account the funding necessary for operating and capital activities, was in a deficit of $116 million for the first time since the data was recorded in the 1996-97 year.

The auditor also commented that to have the ACT return to positive net cash flows “will depend on the government’s ability to achieve a steady growth in net cash inflows from operating receipts and a substantial reduction in expenditure on capital activities”. Chief Minister, what action will you take to initiate the reduction in expenditure on capital works?

MR STANHOPE: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question. I thank, as always, the Auditor-General for the sort of groundbreaking insight into what you do if you believe you are suffering an issue in relation to cash flow or balance: either you spend less or you save more, or a bit of both. It is really insightful stuff this. It really goes to the heart of the decisions that governments have been making for thousands of years. It really is reassuring to have this bit of insight that the Auditor-General brings to the equation actually understood and acknowledged by the Leader of the Opposition.

What this government will do, through the cabinet budget process, as it has done in each of the years in which it has been in office over the last four years, is prioritise. We will look at this government’s priorities, the priorities that the community represents to us. We will go through a very thorough and vigorous process, as we do each year, to ensure that Canberra remains the vital, energetic, well-managed, well-governed place that it has been for the last four years.

I think it is relevant, in the context of this being the last sitting day of the year, to acknowledge just how well the territory has performed in the last four years—four years of unparalleled growth. I do not think there is a single person in this place who, upon walking out of the doors of the Assembly and looking around at the skyline, would not think for one second that the ACT at the moment is enjoying a period of unparalleled growth and vigour, never before seen.

Mr Smyth: Why are you in deficit then?

MR STANHOPE: I have been a resident of Canberra for 35 years and I have never, in my 35 years of residence in the Australian Capital Territory, seen the economy performing in the way that it is performing now.

Mr Mulcahy: Where’s the surplus?

MR STANHOPE: I have never been aware of the level of energy, the level of—

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