Page 1364 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 9 May 2006

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Budget—forecast outcomes

MR MULCAHY: My question is to the Treasurer. According to data on GFS outcomes—and you include those in your budget—there has been an amazing collapse in the projected outcomes as we get closer to the year to which the forecast applies. Two years ago the outcome for 2005-06 was estimated to be a loss of $19 million. By the time of the latest budget midyear review, which was released in February 2006, however, the projected GFS deficit for this year had increased 20-fold to $394 million. That change represents a blow-out in the forecast deficit of $375 million in only two years. Treasurer, what has caused this dramatic change in the GFS outcome for 2005-06?

MR STANHOPE: I thank the member for the question. Welcome back. It is good to have you back. I hope New York, Venice and London were as pleasurable as they might be as the Northern Hemisphere moves into spring and summer.

It was interesting for each of us to read Mr Mulcahy’s missive on his world study tour. I am talking about the issues that he assumed, on his trip, are relevant to his shadow ministry and to mine, namely, the rating by the agency Standard and Poor’s. It is of passing interest that Mr Mulcahy, in order to determine what Standard and Poor’s believe or think, thought it appropriate to visit them in their office in New York. The rest of us simply get on the phone and ring them in Melbourne. Nevertheless, I guess there is some advantage, from time to time, in going to the source. It is one of the delights—

Mr Seselja: He just can’t answer the question.

MR STANHOPE: I think it is relevant to be armed with the good oil from New York on Standard and Poor’s approach to rating, where we mere mortals rely on the telephone and the telephone connection between here and Melbourne. Welcome back, Mr Mulcahy. It is good to have you back. I have no doubt that you feel a little bit sore that you missed the sitting week last week and the interesting debate that we had on the establishment of the estimates committee.

Mr Smyth: Relevance.

MR SPEAKER: Chief Minister, come to the subject matter of the question.

MR STANHOPE: The relevance is the significant pain that the Leader of the Opposition suffered on discovering that he was not going to chair an estimates committee when we know that the real interest was the shadow Treasurer’s exclusion from the estimates committee—a very interesting result in the context of the dynamics within the opposition.

Mr Smyth: You can’t answer the question.

MR STANHOPE: I can. That was just an interesting preamble, setting out the context of the basis on which we are scrambling around with the GFS and ignoring the Australian accounting standard. Under the Australian accounting standard, a standard that the opposition utilised in government, we, as a government, have delivered four consecutive surpluses, to the tune of around $250 million, and have met all of our

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