Page 1367 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 9 May 2006

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Budget—midyear review

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Treasurer. Treasurer, according to the data your government issued in the budget midyear review in February 2006, the outcome in GFS terms for 2008-09 shows a deficit of $333 million, assuming there are no changes in policy. Is that estimated deficit still valid? If not, what is the estimated deficit in GFS terms for 2008-09?

MR STANHOPE: I thank the shadow attorney for the question. This is a difficult question to respond to. Of course, this is exactly the same issue as we had last week in relation to the manufactured $390 million deficit. The question some of you asked during question time last week in relation to that fictitious figure—and I was asked the same question in relation to the Australian accounting standards line—was, “Is it the fact that, in the year 2007-08 or 2008-09”—I forget which year it was; it might have been 2007-08—“the deficit is now assumed to be $390 million?”

Last week, a number of you then asked, “Has the anticipated deficit changed?” My response was that, in the context of the midyear review, it has not. That was a document provided at a point in time which reflected what the outyear anticipated operating position would be. You asked the same question. You now essentially repeat the question in relation to the GFS, and the answer is the same. I do not know whether you are asking me if the Treasury has come to me and said, “Here is the updated midyear review”—this is essentially the notion that the shadow attorney puts—“which proposes a certain operating deficit for 2008-09 of such-and-such. Is that still the case?”

Of course parameters change; governments make decisions. We are in the process of making lots of decisions in the context of a budget. If your question to me is whether Treasury has come to me and said, “This was the position during the midyear review and we have had another look at it,” that is essentially saying, “Have you changed the position at the time of the midyear review?” No, they have not. Have they come to us and said, “Have you made the decisions in a budget context that the operating deficit for the outyears will look like this?”—then of course they have, or of course we, as ministers in the cabinet—

Mr Smyth: All right. So what is the update?

MR STANHOPE: We don’t have an update. We have not yet completed our considerations or deliberations in relation to the budget. If the question is whether Treasury have come and said, “These midyear figures, as and of the time the midyear review was delivered have changed,”—then the answer is no. If the question is, “Are you in your budget cabinet deliberations making policy decisions that will impact on the outyears?”—then the answer is yes. Monday a week ago we made some; Tuesday a week ago we made some; and Wednesday a week ago we made some. We made some on Monday this week and we will make some more during our next budget cabinet meeting.

At every single one of the meetings budget cabinet has held over the last month we have made a decision. None of those decisions has been confirmed yet; we will do that at our final budget cabinet meeting. Guess what? The numbers change. The numbers change daily. Every time we make a decision the numbers change. The numbers change every

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