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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3035..


TransACT

MR HARGREAVES: My question is to the Chief Minister. Mr Speaker, in answer to a question from Mr Stanhope a moment ago, the Chief Minister referred to comments made by Mr Budde on ABC radio this morning. The Chief Minister forgot to say what Mr Budde went on to say, which was that the investors needed to have deep pockets. The Chief Minister also did not say what the journalist said on signing off, which was that he would like to see the books. Mr Speaker, I think that a little bit of completion might be the go.

Mr Speaker, in Saturday's Canberra Times the Chief Minister was quoted as saying that it was slightly more accurate to say that Actew's $30 million investment in TransACT was made without the disapproval of the government, rather than a straight-out endorsement. In today's paper he is quoted as saying that news of Actew's investment almost certainly would have been made public before October's election.

Can the Chief Minister explain to the Assembly the difference between an endorsement and a lack of disapproval? As one of the two voting shareholders in Actew, does he not agree that it is incumbent upon him to strongly back the actions of the corporation?

MR HUMPHRIES: First of all, let me quote more extensively, if that is what Mr Hargreaves wants, from the statements made by Mr Budde on radio this morning. I did not quote Mr Uhlmann's comments because, with great respect, although Mr Uhlmann is a very good journalist, he is not an expert in telecommunications.

Mr Hargreaves: And you are.

MR HUMPHRIES: No, I am not. I do not purport to be. But I do not come into this place quoting myself or other people who are not experts in this field to prove some point about the telecommunications industry. I have already quoted Mr Budde's comments about it being an absolutely fantastic decision that Actew made. Mr Uhlmann asked:

Is it economically viable though, of course it's extremely expensive to roll out?

Mr Budde said:

It is absolutely viable Chris, but unfortunately long-term. There is no short-term return on a broadband investment ... It's an enormous success in Canberra, and that unfortunately means that a lot of money needs to be invested to actually get people the boxes that allows them to access the broadband network ...

The big telcos have 'lost the plot' ... they're investing in the wrong sort of technologies, and therefore they're on the wrong track. Transact is the first one in the world that is on a large scale that is introducing a totally new business model. It's an open model, you allow others to actually provide the services, you don't fight them in court like Telstra and Foxtel are doing ... it's a totally new model, and that's very scary for the incumbent telcos, who are all based on monopolies rather than winning customers through competition. So, it's an absolute necessity for the world that Transact get this to work, and all signs are there that they can get it to


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