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The extent to which ACTEW becomes a leader in renewable energy technologies will be determined, to a large degree, by the make-up of the board. Australian business managers are not noted for their innovative thinking. Nearly every day we hear about another Australian invention that is sold off to overseas interests. The Greens want ACTEW to be not just an efficient supplier of energy but also a world leader in renewable energy and water technologies. The legislation, the objectives and mission statement are fundamental to ACTEW’s future. They must not be cobbled together in a few weeks and then changed and amended hurriedly by overworked parliamentary counsel who are not even able to complete all the amendments that members want to move.

For many years pricing has been the subject of much debate. ACTEW has been seen as a means of raising cash for the Government’s coffers and has been milked for all its worth. What happens to the dividend is critically important to the future of the organisation and the wellbeing of the community. Should the Government be able to put its hands into the ACTEW accounts? Should the Government be able to push up the price of electricity? Should there be an independent pricing tribunal, and, just as importantly, who should determine the structure of the tribunal? We can draft amendments on the run, trying to cover every loophole, or we can wait just a few short months, put in the hard work and try to create some structures that work and that are well thought out.

In the debate that follows we are likely to hear about the cost of not corporatising - a cost I have never seen written or quantified, a cost that has suddenly appeared in the arguments put forward by ACTEW and the Government only after they thought they had lost our vote. What about the cost of not getting it right? We may hear about the silly idea espoused by Mr Moore of holding an inquiry after corporatisation. Let us get it right first, not afterwards. What about those people who will be working in ACTEW? An inquiry afterwards only gives them a lot of uncertainty. They will not be able to focus on a clear set of objectives. They will not know what the shape of the organisation will be from one day to the next. Or was it just a Liberal idea to make the inquiry irrelevant and redundant? We have seen the result of rushed legislation in the past in this place. It often does not work, and it is not very good.

We will hear from the Liberals that they have a mandate. This is a nonsense. If they have any sort of mandate at all it is to carry out their business in an open and consultative way, and it is to involve people. That is the Liberals’ mandate. Without a cost-benefit analysis, we will not vote for the corporatisation of ACTEW. We will vote for the corporatisation when we have the information that shows that it is a smart thing to do and when we have the information that shows us how to do it in the best possible way.

Mr Speaker, the select committee we are proposing seeks to cover the issues surrounding the debate over corporatisation, whether we should have it or not, and then seeks to look at the best possible models, accounting for commercial, social and environmental needs. It looks at accountability, the make-up of the board and the make-up of the shareholders. It looks at pricing and the dividend; its future research and development; its goals and objectives, and its future in a competitive market.

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