Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 1 May 1991
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
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Wednesday 1 May 1991 indice to which we can compare our performance and does not rely on the comparisons made to what could be otherwise irresponsible economies. Given that, in the Australian context, the 50-year low is 38% and given that, in that time, Australia as an economy has performed reasonably well - and we cannot deny that, since the war, Australia has had its ups and downs but, in the global sense, has performed pretty well - a Territory gross debt standing at 40% of gross Territory product would seem to me, in a macro-economic sense, to be entirely reasonable. That is what it is, and I believe it will stay around that level for some time to come. I intend to debunk some of the ratbaggery put about by the opposition, mainly by the Leader of the Opposition. I think he has learnt a few cliches from the former member for Nhulunbuy, who used to mouth terms like 'asset management', 'accrual accounting' and 'program budgeting'. The major one they talk about is 'balanced budgets'. The Northern Territory does balance its budget each year in that its outlays more or less equal its income or its revenues, including borrowings. They would have us believe that, if we borrow $200m to put into capital assets and we spend our total receipts of $1400m, we have made a $200m loss. I refer members to the last report for BHP Pty Ltd. It is the 1989 report to shareholders and financial statements. At page 2, BHP quite proudly declares an operating profit after income tax of $1750m. The major corporate investors, the big institutional investors, accepted that. In the same year, BHP made new borrowings of $2360m and had total borrowings of $7048m. On the Leader of the Opposition's logic, BHP lost $1000m in that year. However, it did not lose $1000m. It paid a dividend to its shareholders. It paid tax to the federal government on $1000m. IBM declared a profit, and it borrowed twice as much as it declared as profit. Compare that to the logic of the Leader of the Opposition. That is Australia's major trading enterprise. It borrows $2000m for a profit of $1000m. In the Northern Territory, we balance our budgets. The Leader of the Opposition is wont to talk about program budgeting. If he were to take the time to read the annual reports of the various departments and instrumentalities laid on the Table of this House from time to time, he would become aware that each reports on expenditure by activity and program. I have 4 such annual reports here. In the report of the Public Service Commissioner, at page 76, he reports on expenditure by activity and program. The Annual Report of the Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries does not have a page number. It will lose points in the Annual Reports Awards. I assume that it is page 72 and there it shows expenditure by activity and program. The Department of Transport and Works, page 67, appropriation, expenditure by activity and program, and the Department of Lands and Housing, page 58, the same thing. To say that the Northern Territory is not into program budgeting denies the facts. It is all there in the annual reports, if the Leader of the Opposition would care to read them or have his staff read them. The Leader of the Opposition berates the Northern Territory government continually about asset management. We do manage our assets properly. He would need only to talk to the appropriate minister or the appropriate department to know that we have 3 computer programs in place in the Department of Transport and Works. We have the Roads Information Management System, the Assets Maintenance Forecasting System, and the Asset Information System. Mr Speaker, I am quite happy to table this document, but I have here a computer printout from the Department of Transport and Works which relates 852
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