Page 1362 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 9 May 2006

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Questions without notice

Budget—forecast outcomes

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Treasurer. Treasurer, in 2003-04 the forecast GFS outcome was for a loss of $5 million but the actual GFS outcome was a loss of $203 million. That was a most dramatic change in only 12 months. In 2004-05 the GFS operating loss was forecast at $17 million, but by the end of that year it had blown out to a loss of $293 million—that is, an even greater change over 12 months. Treasurer, how can you claim that you have been surprised by the deterioration in the outlook of the ACT budget, when your own data proves that there was a budgetary collapse already under way two years ago and that the situation has worsened since then?

MR STANHOPE: I thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question. It is interesting, isn’t it, how we scrabble for statistics or numbers that we think suit our purpose. From time to time, of course, when we do not have a statistic or a number that suits our purpose, we simply manufacture one. Last week, of course, we all witnessed the rather demeaning spectacle of the Leader of the Opposition manufacturing a $390 million deficit in the year 2007-08. You all know it; most of us were here last week and we saw the efforts of the Leader of the Opposition in his manufacturing of a completely fictitious number through some Chinese-whispering campaign around what the real underlying position was. Because the numbers did not suit the Leader of the Opposition’s position, he simply created, manufactured, an anticipated deficit for the year 2007-08—and then, of course, compounded the felony of the manufactured alleged deficit by claiming that it would inevitably result in the slashing of $200 million from the health budget. That was the position that was put last week as a sort of solemn truth—hand on heart; “this is what I know”. It is completely fictitious—and here we have it again today.

Mr Smyth: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Under standing order 118 (b) the minister cannot debate the subject. My question was about his GFS figures—not what I said last week.

MR SPEAKER: I think your question had a solid part of it made up of figures and statistics, and I think the Chief Minister is entitled to respond to them.

MR STANHOPE: The $390 million was an Australian accounting standard deficit. Last week we had an Australian accounting standard alleged deficit produced, or revealed, by the Leader of the Opposition of $390 million in the year 2008-09. That was the allegation last week—an AAS 2008-09 $390 million deficit. That was the allegation last week. But today we have slipped off the AAS and we have strayed into the GFS now, an accounting standard that has never been utilised in the ACT—never utilised by the Liberal Party in government and not utilised by us.

Let us have a look at the AAS: four consecutive surpluses, accumulated surpluses over the four Labor government budgets, of about $250 million—a record, of course, that matches anything that you achieved or produced at any time when you were in government—$250 million of accumulated surpluses over our first four budgets. But let us not talk about that; let us not talk about the extent to which we in government have met our commitment to produce surpluses over the cycle—four years in a row, $250 million of accumulated surpluses.

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