Page 2142 - Week 07 - Thursday, 16 May 2013

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If we go back just quickly to superannuation, the difference between the December quarter and the March quarter shows a further deterioration. The liability has grown from $7.68 billion to $7.765 billion, an increase of about $85 million. And as the territory’s largest single liability at 66 per cent of total liabilities at 30 December, it is now 67 per cent at 30 March. Again, there are questions about meeting these liabilities. They continue to grow. Although I am sure the government is happy to sit and say that the market will recover, it is a big liability and it is an enormous amount of money that will have to be found.

In regard to liabilities, according to the budget review, borrowings have been revised upwards by $1.7 billion, increasing the total liability at the end of the forward estimates by $593 million to a record $2.9 billion, an increase of 47 per cent on current borrowings. Borrowings are projected to reach a peak of $3.2 billion in the 2014-15 year.

We see all these things that come at an interesting time. There is a potential decrease in GST revenue from the federal government, the potential loss of the ACTEW dividend, the superannuation liability continually increasing and a government that cannot control its spending. The prospect for returning to surplus or being able to reduce our borrowings anywhere in the near future, based on these figures, seems very unlikely.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Sport and Recreation, Minister for Tourism and Events and Minister for Community Services) (12.18), in reply: The government is very pleased with the progress in relation to the territory budget for 2012-13, and the review that I released earlier in the year confirmed our budget plan. Our goal is to return to a balanced budget and then surplus in the outyears.

The reason to undertake this restructure of the territory budget is to provide the capacity to fund significant and necessary future infrastructure projects and to continue to be able to provide high-quality services. This restructure of the budget also gives the territory the capability and flexibility to respond to changing circumstances locally, nationally and globally.

Pursuit of balanced budgets and then surpluses is not simply for the sake of such outcomes. There is no need to fall for the misguided economic folly of austerity, particularly when it imposes economic and social costs unnecessarily on a community. We do not believe in the simplistic mantra that all deficits are bad and all surpluses are good.

What we are seeking to do is restructure the territory budget through savings and revenue initiatives that are fair and responsible and that ensure our community is not adversely impacted. It is worth reflecting on why such a restructure is important—it gives the government the capacity to fund city building projects that will transform our city in our second century. It will give the government the capacity to continue to provide services and facilities that the community deserves and expects.

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