STATE BANK FURNITURE SALE
I address my question without notice to the Treasurer and Minister for the Arts: Is he aware of statements by the Opposition this week that the sale of used office furniture by the State Bank will affect the sale price of the bank?
I am aware of the statement yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition in another place, the Hon. Michael Egan. He was in the precincts of this Chamber a short time ago, and I regret that he is not here to hear my comments. Yesterday morning the Hon. Michael Egan put out a press release and the people of Sydney awoke to his claim that taxpayers will lose millions of dollars on new decor for the State Bank. His press release stated:
New South Wales taxpayers will lose millions of dollars when the State Bank of New South Wales flogs off tens of thousands of high quality pieces of office furniture, the State Opposition claimed today.
He went on to say:
It appears that this fire sale is a result of the Bank's decision to relocate 900 staff from the Sydney CBD to Parramatta.
And instead of taking the existing furniture with them, the Bank has opted for an all-new vogue interior.
Mr Egan said the furniture being sold was of excellent quality and in first class condition.
I am glad he is now here to hear this. Yesterday morning on Radio Station 2UE he said words to the effect that it will make the buying price worse because the assets of the bank will be diminished that much further, and that the sale price for the bank will be that much higher. There is a member of Parliament with a sense of humour! He is not the shadow minister for jokes and levity; he is the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council; he is the shadow minister for finance and state development. Let us hear about furnituregate. He claims that the bank is going to lose millions over selling a bit of furniture. What is the truth? Today I received a letter from the State Bank about the sale.
Please pay your debts.
I am pleased to hear from the Leader of the Opposition.
Order! I remind honourable members who have been less than composed and courteous during this question time that I have a substantial list of members who have been called to order on one, two or three occasions. I warn all members who have been called to order that they are now deemed to be on three calls to order. Any of those members who attract my attention again will leave the Chamber forthwith.
I had intended to leave the Leader of the Opposition out of this but because he is back in the Chamber and paying a visit to question time I will take the opportunity to remind the House and the people of this State just how good his financial predictions are. We have heard about the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council; let us look at the Leader of the Opposition in this Chamber. In June 1992 he said that the deficit would be $2 billion in two years time, referring to the 1993-94 Budget. Of course that Budget has been forecast as a $890 million deficit, less than half of his prediction. That is typical of the exaggeration factor, the lie factor, that the Opposition run; the bigger the lie the more likely they are to tell it, whether it is the Hon. Michael Egan in another place or the Leader of the Opposition in this Chamber. In a letter today referring to this great furnituregate the State Bank had this to say:
Even if old furniture was used at Parramatta, the bank would have had a significant amount of furniture to dispose of.
The letter concludes:
Given the age and type of furniture involved, we have no great expectations as to the extent of the proceeds from the auction.
Clearly, the bank's view was and is that it makes better sense to dispose of the furniture than to retain it in storage. In other words, the cost of dismantling and reassembling some of the furniture would have exceeded the cost of the new furniture which has been purchased. That shows the type of mathematics that the Opposition peddles through the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council and the Leader of the Opposition in this House. Their mathematics
are completely flawed and nonsensical. There is a lot more I would like to say about the Hon. Michael Egan but, being conscious of the time, I will save it for another day if there are any questions that the Opposition wants to direct to me about the sale of the State Bank.
Some outlandish and ridiculous claims have been made by the Leader of the Opposition in this House. Yesterday, I think it was, he said that the State Bank would not be sold under a Labor Government unless the sale price was at least $1.5 billion. It is about time that the Opposition woke up - I exclude the Labor backbench who are obviously looking very carefully at the Leader of the Opposition and whether or not he should remain in that position. He says $1.5 billion. Where did he get that from? It is a figure he has plucked from the air as did his counterpart in the Legislative Council. It is a figure with no basis in substance at all and the Leader of the Opposition knows it. It is about time that this person who claims to be putting forward some type of alternative government was brought to book for the figures that he is prepared to run in this State and in this Chamber. They are nonsense and bear no relation to reality. I look forward to the remainder of this session to proving that point again and again.