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Mr Speaker, in interpreting such motions, I might foreshadow that I am intending to bring into the Assembly a piece of legislation whereby the Assembly can use its power through a motion that is actually a binding resolution; in other words, it actually has the force of law. In such circumstances, a binding resolution, under the way I will bring it into the Assembly, would require seven days’ notice. It would give time to sort out where things like this might cause a problem in interpretation and would therefore have to be drafted in a much more careful and precise way. So, a government that was being held by legislation, because that would be the effect of a binding resolution, would have to deal with such issues and would not be able to deal with a motion that has a fairly wide interpretation.
All that being said, I think there is a message here that is being sent by the Assembly to the Government: If you want to proceed with corporatisation, before you take any steps to finalise anything bring it back to the Assembly. I am also sending my personal message about that: That does not mean that we are going to knock it back. It means that we want to debate it in here and we want to have all the reasons why it is a good idea to take any of these actions. It is interesting that, when you are talking about ACTION and action, the two words seem to get confused. I pity Hansard having to work out when they are going to use capital letters and when they are going to use lower case. The reality is that the message being sent by this Assembly to the Government is that we believe that it is appropriate for you to come back to the Assembly and explain to the Assembly what you are doing in terms of the modification of ACTION.
There is no doubt that under the two previous Ministers, but primarily Mr Connolly, the improvements made in work practices at ACTION were significant. The savings that have come through from ACTION have been significant, and we cannot turn a blind eye to what has been achieved. It would be silly to do so. It may well be that what this Government is trying to achieve may be achieved without corporatisation. On the other hand, it may be that corporatisation provides the next step in the process Mr Connolly started. Amongst those of us who are the most cynical, it would be easy to say, “Yes, it is the next step, and the one after that is privatisation”, and I can almost hear Mr Berry calling it out now.
Having made those few points, Mr Speaker, I think a fairly wide interpretation of this motion is appropriate. The message should be very clear to the Government: Before they implement any major changes to ACTEW they should come back before this Assembly.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (12.12): I think the message of this motion is fairly clear, that is, that the Government has to make its case. It has to persuade those with open minds about the subject that there needs to be a step in this direction in order to achieve what it wants to achieve. I think that is a welcome reaction from the Assembly. I hope that we would always be able to demonstrate the wisdom of our actions, even if we had a majority on the floor of the Assembly; but having to do so in an environment of a minority government is, of course, extremely important and we intend to do our best when that occasion arises. When we bring forward legislation to privatise ACTION we will explain what we are going to do, how we will achieve it, and what we hope to gain for the people of Canberra by taking that step. That is the onus on us.