Page 229 - Week 01 - Thursday, 16 February 2006

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MR STEFANIAK: Given that we seem to be getting there, Treasurer, can you now account for the disappearance of $240 million? You seem to be getting there.

MR QUINLAN: I am not very good at this anymore, am I? Not by addressing current assets alone.

Budget—midyear review

MR SESELJA: My question is to the Treasurer. According to table 13 in the 2005-06 Mid year review, page 21, GFS net borrowing for this year is $638 million, rising to $774.7 million in 2006-07. What is the reason for this very high figure for net borrowing?

MR QUINLAN: Are they the new figures or the old ones? The good news is that those figures are overstated. There is an error in the midyear review. Everybody in the house would know that by now. There was a double count of depreciation, which, instead of being factored out, has been factored in twice. The good news is that that line will be a whole lot lower; it will be a line that is declining.

I asked Treasury officials this morning, in my own vernacular, could I have a corrigendum or an updated report, signed in blood. They could not sign it in blood immediately because they were, at the time, hanging by their thumbs. I respect the work that Treasury has done for me in my time. Given the resources that they have had, the constant raids on staff by the commonwealth and the cherry-picking of staff, the work has been exemplary.

We have a clear error in these figures. The good news is, of course, that the resultant figures, when the error is corrected, impact favourably on our GFS net lending/borrowing. It does not impact upon our operating bottom line at all; it is the way that GFS measures whether you are, as they call it, a net lender or a net borrower. That is one of the measures that are taken into account; it is not the primary measure. It is one of the measures that are taken into account.

I advise members that I would like to reissue the amended statements before the end of business today, but I do not guarantee it because we want to check them and check them again, as you would appreciate. I apologise on behalf of the government for tabling these incorrect figures. Under the Westminster system, I take full responsibility. I advise the house that I am now prepared to consider my future as the Treasurer, on the basis of having presented incorrect figures in the house.

Skilled labour shortage

MS PORTER: Mr Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, can you inform the Assembly about the status of the campaign that aims to attract new residents to Canberra, particularly those with skills that are in short supply?

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Ms Porter, for the question. It is a very important question. As we are all acutely aware, Canberra, along with almost every other place in Australia—certainly the major cities—is suffering a very acute skill shortage. It is

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