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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 June 1995) . . Page.. 889 ..


The Greens would not be making this fuss if we and hundreds of other people, including some notable experts in the area of environmental and social research as well as industry representatives, thought this legislation was any good, that it contained any vision. We have a government with a lack of vision. Unfortunately, the Independents in this Assembly share this Government's lack of vision. It is with great regret that I will be speaking to some of the amendments we have drafted over the last few days here, rather than in a committee, where we would have the time to consider the future directions of ACTEW and set up the appropriate structures to head in those directions. I recall that recently in the Assembly, in a debate on a motion Roberta McRae put up about consultation on legislation, Mrs Carnell said:

It is interesting that the thing that Ms McRae left out and the thing that is most important and has worked best in this Assembly is the committee process. If this Assembly believes that consultation has not been adequately handled, what happens? The Assembly refers a Bill to a committee; and that committee, in an open forum with everybody present, asks for members of the community and organisations to come forward.

Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the sentiment at the moment. The Greens do not oppose corporatisation on ideological grounds, as we have also said many times. However, in rushing through this legislation and slapping in amendments rather than looking at the whole thing in a considered manner, we have wasted an opportunity to turn ACTEW into a world-class organisation in terms of energy and water service provision and social requirements. The Greens recognise that ACTEW, if corporatised, could be more innovative in terms of R and D, particularly in the area of new technology, and this could attract more business to the ACT. As we have said before, the Greens are not against competition or business. What we care about is the type of business we promote. Do we have a strategy to do this? No.

The Greens will oppose agreement to this Bill in principle, not because we have in-principle opposition to corporatisation but because we are concerned that it is not the best possible corporatisation. We have had the opportunity but, unfortunately, we have not taken it. Addressing these concerns with piecemeal amendments is not good enough for such an important piece of legislation and there is also not enough time to draft complex amendments. Have governments not learnt by now that it is easier, cheaper and more satisfactory to the general public to attempt to get things right first? The legislation as it stands has some big holes. Obviously, it is not just the Greens who believe this, or the legislative drafters would not have been working day and night drafting amendments to the legislation, even some from the Government itself. The way this issue has been rushed through means that as a community we have not addressed big issues such as pricing, FOI, the setting of environmental and social targets, community service obligations, community representation on the board of directors, where the dividends go, whether bureaucrats should be shareholders - the list goes on.


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