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Tuesday, 23 September 2008
Page: 29

Senator ABETZ (7:39 PM) —I thank the minister for that, and I would hope that my dear friend Senator Xenophon heard the answer. I just asked the minister: did Treasury seek to engage in any discussion with the FCAI about the methodology that Treasury had some concerns about? If they were fair dinkum about this, and if the government was fair dinkum, they would have gone to the FCAI and sought extra information to clarify it to provide some robustness to this rubbery $400 million figure plucked out of the air. But, of course, chances are that, like good, well-trained public servants and good barristers, they did not ask questions they did not know the answers to. And they were undoubtedly concerned that the whole government assertion about $400 million would fall in a heap if they actually took that step of asking the FCAI: ‘Is there some robustness in your methodology? Can we talk to you about it?’ But, no, they had no interest in finding out the facts—no interest in consulting with the FCAI to find out whether or not their information was correct.

So I say to my friends on the crossbenches: you are willing to accept Treasury advice on that $400 million figure, which is projected on assumptions, and we are not 100 per cent sure what they are other than that they are expecting growth, but we do not know of what rate or how that $400 million is projected over the forward years. I would be interested to know how much is allocated out of that $400 million to each of the successive years. I would like a break-up of that figure over the successive years from the minister. Can the minister provide us with details of how the $400 million is broken up over the four successive years?