Page 624 - Week 02 - Thursday, 14 February 2013

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and Minister for Community Services) (3.42): For the information of members, I present the following paper:

Budget 2012-2013—Budget review.

I ask leave to make a statement in relation to the paper.

Leave granted.

MR BARR: I present to the Assembly the 2012-13 budget review prepared in accordance with the Financial Management Act 1996. The 2013 budget review forecasts a general government sector headline net operating deficit of $362.9 million in 2012-13.

The review affirms that the territory is on target to return to surplus in 2015-16 as reflected in our budget plan. This ensures that the government has the capacity to fund significant and necessary future infrastructure projects and to continue to provide high-quality services. Importantly also, it gives the territory the capacity and flexibility to respond to changing circumstances in the local, national and global economy.

It is important to remember that the fundamentals of the territory economy remain strong. We have low unemployment at 4.5 per cent, with only Western Australia and the Northern Territory being lower. Our economic growth is robust and population and incomes are increasing strongly. The territory continues to maintain one of the strongest balance sheets in Australia, as evidenced by key indicators such as net debt and net financial liabilities.

The budget review reflects an improvement of $18.2 million from the deficit forecast in the 2012-13 pre-election budget update. This is largely due to higher returns from the Land Development Agency, changes of the timing of payments from ACTEW Corporation and an increase in GST revenue.

Overall, revenue expectations have softened somewhat across the forward estimates. This is due in main to revisions to the land release program to reflect slower than expected land sales caused largely by delays in environmental approvals under the commonwealth’s Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act but also market conditions. The softening in revenue is also due to revisions to conveyancing and waste fees, higher depreciation for education infrastructure and lower returns from ACTEW Corporation and ACTTAB.

The budget review incorporates a higher level of expected borrowings to maintain the government’s continued commitment to delivering important infrastructure projects. The budget review estimates also incorporate the impacts of the Appropriation Bill 2012-13 (No 2) that I have presented to the Assembly today. The budget review includes reductions in forecast expenditure from 2013-14.

Further, the Treasurer’s advance has been reduced to a level consistent with average authorisations of expenditure over the last five years. With revenue softening, it is

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