Page 5135 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 18 November 2009

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Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The Assembly met at 10 am

(Quorum formed.)

MR SPEAKER (Mr Rattenbury) took the chair and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Financial Management (Budget Review) Amendment Bill 2009

Mr Smyth, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (10.02): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

The history of midyear reviews in the ACT is relatively recent. The then Treasurer, Ted Quinlan, introduced a requirement for midyear reviews of the budget in August 2003. Since that time there have been six midyear reviews. The first, for the 2003-04 financial year, was released on 13 February 2004. The most recent, the report for 2008-09, was released on 23 December 2008.

Mr Quinlan as Treasurer, and even Mr Stanhope as Treasurer, knew what a midyear report means. Apparently Ms Gallagher does not. Most of the six midyear reviews have actually assessed performance for the first six months of the finite financial year. This year Ms Gallagher, as Treasurer, decided that she would redefine what a half-year is. Ms Gallagher attempted to defend her position by asserting that the ACT’s midyear review coincided with the release of midyear updates by all other Australian jurisdictions. This statement, of course, is wrong. That is not surprising, given the guesswork and inaccuracies that have been evident in the work of this Treasurer.

What all the other jurisdictions were doing was providing to their communities updates on their budgetary situations in the context of the upheavals in the world financial markets. The turmoil in the economies across the world necessitated governments trying to make sense of what was happening and devising policy responses. While some might have been called midyear reviews, there were some states that were still required to prepare a separate six-month midyear review. Indeed, if the Treasurer had undertaken the most basic research, she would have found that Victoria and Tasmania have legislated for midyear reviews that must take account of performance up to 31 December each year.

What Ms Gallagher should have done in November and December 2008 was say that, because of the global financial crisis, the ACT would be preparing an analysis of the effects of the crisis on the ACT and that, to the extent that it was possible, the ACT

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