Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 1 May 1991



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 1 May 1991

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Parliamentary Record 3


Debates for 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 1 May 1991 and enables it to act in a prudent way in the management of those liabilities. As with debt, liabilities become a problem only if the government does not have the financial capacity to meet the commitments and its monitoring processes ensure this does not occur. The opposition continues to talk about Yulara and the Sheraton Hotels as if they are mysteries that cannot be fathomed, but the government's liabilities in respect of these projects are faithfully reported each year. It is all known. If we did not know about the extent of our liabilities and we did not plan to manage them properly, then problems would arise. However, the fact is that we know and we do plan. Consideration is being given constantly to ways in which to reduce the size of our liabilities and thereby freeing up resources for improved government services. In the past, honourable members opposite have focused their attention on superannuation fundi ng in di scussi ons about contingent and actual 1iabi1ities. As in all these debates, members of the opposition tend to regard worst-case scenarios as the norm. What they have talked about is the full funding superannuation cost to the government, taking that as the minimum liability on an annual basis. That is a totally unreasonable position to adopt. Why should this or any government put aside each year an amount of between $50m and $70m in excess of actual emerging requirements? The federal government does not fully fund its national old-age pension scheme. It would be ludicrous to suggest that it should do so because it would have to calculate actuarially the future old-age pension entitlements of every Australian now alive. It would have even to go to the extreme of making assumptions about funding provisions for individuals yet to be born. Hundreds of billions of dollars would probably have to be set aside to meet future old-age pension entitlements and that would hardly be a sensible use of national resources even if it were possible. Likewise, the Territory makes prudent provision for the emerging costs of superannuation, not the full funding costs. We do not need to put aside full funding costs annually because we have access to the full tax base of the community. A fully-funded superannuation scheme in the Territory would have to be built up to around $1000m. Investment opportunities of that magnitude are not available in the Territory and it means the funds would simply disappear over the borders to Sydney or Melbourne or other parts south of here. It is a question of living in the real world and not the fantasy world of the opposition. The Leader of the Opposition continues to babble about program budgeting and how we ought to be doing it in the Territory. I am always surprised to hear him say it. It means that he does not read the budget papers because, if he did, he would see that the Territory is already using program budgeting. Not only do we present information by program, we actually appropriate funds by activities which are amalgams of programs. In fact, the estimates review process was made easier than it might have been because the program structures enabled the committee to understand what it is that is done by government. I have a copy of some of the information that was requested of departments regarding their budgets on a program basis. It is quite detailed indeed. The information provided to the Estimates Review Committee was also in a very acceptable format because of the work that this government has done on program budgeting. If the Leader of the Opposition wants credibility when he talks about budgets, he ought to read the documents that he is talking about. Yesterday, in his debate on the ERC, he mentioned that we did not use the ABS format in our papers. If he reads Budget Paper No 3, the first page states that it is laid out in accordance with ABS criteria. We do it already. 841

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