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MR DE DOMENICO: Mr Speaker, as I touched on earlier today, corporatisation is being embraced across the country, by both Liberal and Labor governments. It is not a radical move. I think that the recent publicity in New South Wales concerning the Carr Government's plan to corporatise the State's electricity power is indicative of what is happening all over the country. Yes, I am aware that yesterday the New South Wales Treasurer and Energy Minister, Mr Michael Egan, announced reforms to the State's electricity supply industry. As part of his energy statement, I am advised, Mr Egan announced that rural-based distributors will be amalgamated and Pacific Power's structure will be reviewed to determine whether it should be divided into three separate competitors. Mr Egan said:
The reforms will cut power prices, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create jobs over the longer term.
Mr Egan also outlined the Government's plans for this reform, saying:
The Carr Government will legislate in the Budget Session to create a competitive market for electricity within New South Wales, ahead of a national market for power opening in mid 1996.
Mr Egan also said that the Pacific Power chairman, Professor Fred Hilmer, will head a review to determine whether Pacific Power should be corporatised as one or more publicly-owned businesses. I would like to touch on this point, Mr Speaker. It is an interesting one. The person whom the New South Wales Government appoints to oversee the restructuring of Pacific Power is Professor Fred Hilmer, the architect of the Hilmer reforms which have been endorsed by the heads of all Australian governments. In the energy industry alone, the Industry Commission estimates gains of $2.4 billion from corporatisation of Australia's electricity and gas utilities.
The New South Wales Minister, Mr Egan, also went on to say:
Our policy is to set up publicly owned corporatised bodies which are going to beat the pants off those privatised bodies in Victoria.
You do not need to read between the lines, Mr Speaker, to realise that the New South Wales Labor Government wants a competitive electricity power operation ready to compete in time for the national electricity grid in July next year. You can therefore see that this Government's move to corporatise ACTEW by July 1995 is not a radical one. It is the sort of thing that is being considered in other States, and has already occurred in some. The most recent example occurred in Queensland, under another Labor Government, on 1 January this year when the Labor Premier, Wayne Goss, corporatised his electricity services.
What we are seeing, Mr Speaker, is the national micro-economic reform processes getting under way right across Australia. This Government supports national micro-economic reform processes, particularly developments to establish a national electricity market, and the first step towards that is the corporatisation of ACTEW. The advantage with ACTEW is that it exists and functions more like a corporation than a bureaucracy at the moment. Therefore, we believe that achieving corporatisation by 1 July this year is