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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 8 Hansard (4 August) . . Page.. 3405..

MRS CROSS (continuing):

President George Bush, in his Saturday radio address, called for the passage of genetic non-discrimination legislation. It is something in which we should be leading the country. The ACT is known to have supported landmark legislation and is a leader in some significant legislation. This is another piece of legislation protecting the rights of ACT residents, and I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Detail stage

Clause 1.

Debate (on motion by Mr Hargreaves ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Public-private partnerships

MR HARGREAVES (11.51): I move:

That this Assembly notes the recent discussions at the National Conference of Parliamentary Environment and Public Works Committees on the subject of Public Private Partnerships.

The involvement of the private sector in the provision of public infrastructure is not new. Governments have contracted with the private sector for centuries. I give as examples Matthew, the private tax collector who is referred to in the Bible; the private cleaning of public street lamps in eighteenth century England; the private railways of the nineteenth century; and the fact that 82 per cent of the 197 vessels in Drake's fleet that successfully conquered the Spanish Armada in 1588 were private contractors to the Admiralty.

The first ship that sailed to America was a joint effort between the public and private sectors. I refer to Australia's past and to the transportation of convicts from England and Ireland to Australian colonies. Private shipping contractors whose vessels were chartered by the British government carried out that transportation. However, in recent years a new form of public-private partnership arrangements, or PPPs, and privately funded infrastructure has become increasingly common. Public-private partnerships currently account for about 7 per cent of overall Australian public infrastructure provision, and that number is steadily increasing.

The availability of private finance for major infrastructure projects has essentially given governments access to a massive credit card with which to sign up to infrastructure deals. Professor Graeme Hodge, Director of the Centre for the Study of Privatisation and Public Accountability, Faculty of Law, Monash University, said:

If government is eventually paying the bills for PPPs over the long term, then the pressure on government budgets has simply changed from a short-term pressure for capital funding to a longer term pressure to pay off the government's mega-credit card.

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