Page 233 - Week 01 - Thursday, 16 February 2006

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or achieved, or what decisions we make in relation to expenditure, that is not on the table. One of the issues that will be on the table this year, as it was last year, the year before and the year before that is: should the government give consideration to borrowing?

That is something we have chosen not to do but it will be on the table, just as there will be on the table—as there has been in every budget I have been associated with and as I am sure there was in every budget delivered by every other government since self-government—a range of issues at every budget cabinet discussion. What shall we spend money on? What expenditure shall we approve? What are the priorities? Should we be looking at our revenue sources? Should we be raising sources of revenue from those existing sources? Should we be finding new sources of revenue? Should we terminate a particular revenue line? Should we contemplate borrowing? Is it cost-effective in outcomes for us to borrow?

Once again, in the budget process we have just commenced we will deal with all those issues. We will be considering all those issues. We have a tight budget position; there is no doubt about that. It is not dramatic and it is not in crisis. It is tough. In the overall scheme it is not the sort of bottom line that causes me any grave concern. None of my colleagues or I are wobbling at the knees at the prospect of this particular bottom line and the need to address it.

Mr Smyth: Just pushing to stare it down.

MR STANHOPE: We will, which is what good governments do and what this government will do. We will deal with it. That, of course, is the test of governments. It is a test we are prepared to face and one that we will.

MRS BURKE: I ask a supplementary question. Chief Minister, I still have to ask you this question: how do you reconcile the statement in the midyear review with your statement yesterday that your government was not actively considering borrowings? Can you make the position more clear? I do not think you really answered my first question.


Mrs Burke: You are either borrowing or you are not.

MR STANHOPE: I was actually being pedantically correct in my answer. I cannot quite remember the question but I was determined to be precise. I know that I used the word “actively” which Mrs Burke just utilised. Just to be clear on this, what I meant by that was that we have not reached a stage in our budget cabinet deliberations where any of the issues—

Mrs Burke: That you might be borrowing?

MR STANHOPE: We might, most certainly. It is on the table but it is not yet being actively considered. If you ask me this question or you repeat this question, say, at the end of March or in early April I will probably be able to give you a far more precise answer. So ask me again in April. As of today this government is not actively considering borrowing. We have not discussed it or considered it—

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