Page 1157 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 24 March 2009

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The next section goes on to talk about what the Treasurer was able to tell us in regard to the current state of the financial position of the ACT. To put that in context, at the same time we had the Chief Minister telling us exactly what might happen in 2009 and 2010. He was pulling exact numbers, either out of the air or out of his briefings, to tell people where next year’s budget was going, but the Treasurer was unable to tell us or give us an update for 2008-09. At that stage we were told that technically we are still in surplus, because that is the latest updated report that we have got.

Mr Hanson: Where did he get those figures from?

MR SMYTH: That is a good question. Where did the Chief Minister get those figures from? Paragraph 2.42 reads:

The Committee was disappointed that the Treasurer was unable to provide the Committee with an update …

That is, an update for this current year. For those members who were not here in the early 2000s—2001, 2002, 2003—and for most of the life of the Assembly before that, the Assembly received a monthly update of the financials. Any organisation, any company, any set of company directors that did not ask for an update, given the global outlook and the Australian outlook, would be negligent in not knowing exactly where their organisation’s budget was at. Apparently, our Treasurer does not know that and cannot update us from the December numbers.

Mr Hanson: All guesswork.

MR SMYTH: It is all guesswork, apparently. In paragraph 2.43. The committee says:

It is of concern to the Committee, therefore, that the Treasurer provided the Committee with information on the budget outcomes that was published in December 2008.

I think it is quite sad that in the months following 2008 the Treasurer does not have an updated number. Numbers have been touted and attributed to the Treasurer in the Canberra Times. A deficit of $17 million has been touted. One can do the numbers on the back of an envelope if one wants. There is the $15.2 million surplus and we lost some GST revenue or we lose revenue from the downturn in the interest payments. But the fact that the committee cannot get that answer from the Treasurer I think is very disappointing. The committee’s report goes on to say in paragraph 2.46:

The Committee believes the Treasurer should be in a position to provide updated estimates of the budget outcomes for the current financial year.

Recommendation 3 recommends that the Treasurer provide such an outcome for the current financial year. The committee was also interested to get the detail of the proportions of the breakdown of the spending. How much will actually go on labour because that is the money that will protect the jobs; how much will go on plant, because that is money that passes through local companies, but goes out of the territory in the main because, unfortunately, so little is manufactured in the ACT; and

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