Page 2580 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 7 August 2013
the shadow treasurer. If he has got alternative policies, bring them forward. If he has got a considered analysis of the territory’s long-term economic future that demands a different policy direction, let him bring that position forward. But blatantly political motions, such as this one this morning, that demonstrate no understanding of the issues before this Assembly do the shadow treasurer no credit. In the meantime, the government will get on with the passage of the budget, the good governance of the territory and the delivery of these important transformational projects for the city of Canberra.
MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Housing, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and Minister for Ageing) (10.30): I rise to put my view today that I will not be supporting the motion brought forward by Mr Smyth. I think that there are, unfortunately, a number of elements to it that I simply do not agree with.
When one reflects on the estimates report, the most interesting part of it is the analysis prepared by the Centre for International Economics, which is the process the Assembly set up a number of years ago to help the estimates committee by providing them with detailed and expert analysis of the budget from an independent source, recognising that the Assembly cannot have its own parliamentary budget office—we are probably not large enough—but it is useful to have this.
It really is a tale of two documents. One looks at the actual report from the Liberal members of the estimates committee and then one looks at the report from the Centre for International Economics. And they really are strikingly different. I will quote from the headline summary of the CIE report. It says:
The 2013-14 Budget seeks to reprioritise spending and smoothly bring the budget back into surplus in 2015-16.
The return to surplus will only occur through an adjustment to build in expected future returns on superannuation investment assets, which are not yet realised. Without this, a trend toward Budget balance is forecast, rather than Budget balance itself.
Overall, expenditure is moderately stimulatory and the balancing of the budget reflects greater confidence in strong revenue growth rather than substantially pared back expenditure.
Overall, the revenue projections appear achievable, but are not conservative.
That is, I think, a fair analysis of the budget. And if you actually go through the rest of this paper, what you will see is that it is a very considered approach to the budget. It highlights that there are areas of risk, and that is inevitable. In a budgeting process, there are things that are going to be difficult to predict or areas where the government has taken some on-balance decisions on how to approach the budget. That compares quite starkly to both the analysis in the Liberal Party members’ component of the estimates report and the motion we see before us today.
There are various other parts of this report that are well worth having a look at. Another example is that it notes: