Debates Day 3 - Thursday 1 May 2003
Parliamentary Record 11
Debates for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Thursday 1 May 2003 cannot walk safely down the streets in virtually any Territory centre because of the levels of crime. The evidence of the benefit to the community of this enormous expenditure and the lack of the ability of the Treasurer to describe it is just breathtaking. Madam Speaker, there should be a more open and accountable debate in relation to this, so that the government can be fully tested. I will pursue it with the Auditor-General and, in closing, I call on the government to allow this debate to be deferred in order that other members can avail themselves of the opportunity to contribute to what is the most important issue. Mr BURKE (Opposition Leader): Madam Speaker, the analysis of the Treasurers Annual Financial Statement is, as we all know, a very important report that comes from the Auditor-General to this parliament. I do not think I can recall a shorter tabling statement from a Treasurer in the time that I have been in this parliament, but I certainly can recall extensive debate by the opposition on many occasions as a result of the Auditor-Generals report. It often figured as a key plank in their way to criticise the performance of government expenditure. In that context, it is a very important report. We are away from Darwin, we are in Alice Springs; we have only had this particular document for a day, and it also in the context of a busy parliamentary session. The shadow Treasurer has, to his credit, analysed this document to some extent. He has asked, in all fairness, for further time to analyse the document. He took the opportunity, in the quick analysis that he did, to point out to me that he thought there was an error in one of the pages. He also took the time to ring the Auditor-General who himself said: Yes, there is an error. As he said, it is no criticism of the Auditor-General, but there is a typographical error in the document itself. But, more than that, the document on the face of it is a damning indictment o f government performance. The shadow Treasurer, during Question Time, raised a couple of the issues, particularly the unreported increase in debt of $ 17.7m. In answer - 1 am sure in the opinion of the Treasurer and government members - in quite a humorous reply, the Treasurer spent more time on the sketch on the front than he did maturely demonstrating the seriousness o f the question that was being asked by the shadow Treasurer. Now, you expect this sort of debate to be closed with a one-on-one speaker. Well, certainly, any reason ... Mr Stirling: That is what your government used to do every year, Denis. Mr BURKE: That is wrong! Mr Stirling: That is not wrong. We w ill... Madam SPEAKER: Order! Treasurer, order! Mr BURKE: The Treasurer inteijects and says that somehow this is a long-standing convention. There is no doubt that there have been occasions in the past when the Auditor-Generals report has been straightforward ... Mr Stirling: You used to sneak in and drop it at 11 oclock at night! Madam SPEAKER: Treasurer, order! Mr BURKE: There have been times in the past when it has been straightforward and not necessary to labour debate, but I can tell you that an easy search of the Hansard will show you that members like Mr Bailey, Mr Bell, Mr Stirling and others debated these reports extensively, and were allowed to debate them extensively by the government, and rightly so. In the time that I have had a look at this report, if you look at page 19, the Auditor-General asks the question: What the true position of the Northern Territorys nett debt? He says: The impact o f not bringing into 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 ... But he does not only say that; he goes on to say this: An 11.2% reduction in the market value o f the investments supporting the balance in the Conditions o f Service Reserve was not recognised in determining the nett debt at 30 June 2002. The Conditions o f Service Reserve is supported almost entirely by investments in equities ... And he refers to the schedule where that appears: These investments have not been market to market on 30 June 2002 but are carried at the same valuation reported at 30 June 2001 ... Because that is the way the government chose to carry the return on those investments. Mr Stirling: And guess what? It is the same as you did the year before and the year before that. 3991
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