Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 1 May 2003



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 1 May 2003

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Parliamentary Record 11


Debates for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005




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 - Thursday 1 May 2003 Transport Consortium during 2003-04. However, it remains our belief that the value of the asset is recorded appropriately, and this view will not change until the transfer takes place. As stated in the Auditor-Generals report, the move to an accrual output framework in 2002-03 will provide a greater degree of information to the parliament and Territorians on the financial position of the Territory. This move also has the Territory on a consistent reporting framework with all other jurisdictions. In conclusion, the report is a positive one for the Martin government. It indicates that the results presented for our first financial year in government reflect a true and accurate picture of the Territorys financial position. It also highlights the positive steps taken by this government in implementing the accrual framework, and developing and maintaining the deficit reduction strategy which, over time, will reduce the interest and debt burden on this and future generations of Territorians. Mr REED (Katherine): Mr Acting Deputy Speaker, that was an astoundingly brief response from a Treasurer talking about a report in which the Auditor-General has qualified the report that he has prepared on the Treasurers annual... Mr Stirling: Same as you did in 1999-2000 ... Mr REED: ... financial statement. I listened in silence to the Treasurer, and I expect that I have the same opportunity. This is a very serious issue in terms o f the Auditor-General as an independent auditor o f the governments books reporting to not just us as members of parliament, but to the people o f the Northern Territory, about the conduct of the financial management of the Northern Territory government. You cannot get many more serious issues than that. From that point o f view, we should be taking this debate very seriously. It certainly would have warranted a much broader and more detailed explanation than that provided by the Treasurer. He has touched on a number of issues, as I want to. I want to start in relation to some of the matters that will be of importance to Territorians. As the only principal issue that the Treasurer raised was that of his failure to declare $ 17.7m worth of debt, which was the qualified item in the Auditor-Generals report, I want to dwell on that for just a little moment, because the Treasurer has given an excuse which does not wash. It does not wash for the reasons that the Auditor-General, a very professional man, appointed, indeed, by the Martin government, has highlighted in his report. We should carefully have a look at that because the words are very serious. Indeed, if you were the director of a private company and your auditor made the remark: The impact o f not bringing to account a decrease in the market value o f equities held in the Conditions o f Service Reserve, was to understate the reported nett debt by $17.7m. That is to say that the Northern Territory government is telling us that debt is one figure where, in fact, it is $ 17.7m more than that. Therefore, it is a very serious issue, particularly when you take into account that debt has increased since this Labor government came to office, in 21 months, by $280m. That is the background to the issues that we face here. The Treasurer has just told us that there are reasons for not having included the $ 17.7m in his annual statement: the information was available, it was not appropriate - all sorts of lame excuses. Well, Treasurer, can I refer you ... Mr Stirling: No, not true. The same as you did in 1999 and the same as you did in 2000. Mr REED: Well, I will refer the Treasurer to the Treasurers - that is, his - Annual Financial Report in 2001-02. If he turns to page 69 and looks at notation (a), which reads, and I quote: The Conditions o f Service Reserve holds virtually all o f its own investments in equities. The equities market has been volatile since September 2001. The value o f the reserve as at 30 June 2002 was estimated at SI48.2m. This constitutes an unrealised loss o f $8.5m. This is last year when the Treasurer made this report. Its final remark is: The most recent valuation as at 30 September 2002 estimates the reserve at $139m. $139m plus $ 17m is $156m, which is the figure that the Auditor-General has called into question. So, the Treasurer cannot say he did not know the amount because he gave the amount; he stated the amount in his financial report. Now we have the situation where he is denying that the information was available. If he read his own report and was aware of the content of it, he would have been aware of the $ 17.7m furphy that he is now trying to perpetrate, and he would not be rejecting the proposition and, indeed, the qualified statement that has been provided by the Auditor-General. This is very serious; that debt should be understated. It can be done for no other reason than the government is trying to make the position, as far 3986