Page 2944 - Week 08 - Thursday, 25 June 2009

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week, because it just felt that way; it was three days. As the three days went on, everyone was reporting on the things that they did, and actually everybody was working on sustainability issues. One of the more interesting auditor-general reports was from Tasmania, about species elimination. If we are not talking about sustainability with species elimination, I do not know what we are talking about.

It was a very valuable opportunity for all of us. I commend the report to the Assembly. I thank very much the committee’s secretary, Andrea Cullen, for basically writing the report. I think it is possible that other members may wish to speak on the conference.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (11.19): I would like to concur with the comments of the chair of the public accounts committee. I would like to thank the secretary of the committee, who has produced a remarkable report about a very dry conference—a whole lot of public accounts committees talking about economic issues.

Mr Barr: Sounds like an awesome experience.

MR SMYTH: Oddly enough, it is very much a grounding experience, because the principles that have been discussed in these conferences over the years often tend to be the same thing. The progress is slow but steady.

The interesting thing that a number of the speakers focused on was the roles of auditors-general. We were very lucky to have address the conference the chair of the British public accounts committee. I have to say—I think the chair of our PAC would agree—that he was perhaps the most entertaining of speakers. He had this tremendous sort of plummy English accent and that air of understatement, but he was quite entertaining.

The other highlight of the conference was at the dinner. The address was given by the Governor of the New Zealand Reserve Bank. He got up to give a speech, which basically went along these lines: “The crisis started in Central Asia; it moved to the Middle East, jumped into the Balkans, went to Italy, jumped into France and Germany, went across to England, went across to Ireland and went to Iceland.” We are all going, “No, no. The economic crisis started in America.” He goes, “It went across to Iceland, where it killed 60 per cent of the population.” I forget the year that he quoted; I think he said 1347. He said, “It is 1347 and I am talking about the bubonic plague.”

He said, “Now let me talk about the global economic crisis. It started in America and the housing market equities.” He rattled off these things and did a parallel about how bad the bubonic plague had been, how the world at that stage had no answers and how they stumbled their way through it. He then finished by saying, “You know, we have done everything that we can across the world in terms of addressing the economic crisis, and we have done it in many different ways, but I would just like to finish by leaving you with this thought: a child was discovered in Madagascar the other day who has a strain of the bubonic plague that is resistant to all known antibiotics and treatments.”

Then he just finished. He walked off and just left us all hanging there thinking, “Well, hang on. You have got to finish the story. What is the answer?” I think the point he

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