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Debate resumed from 1 June 1995, on motion by Mr De Domenico:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SPEAKER: Is it the wish of the Assembly to debate this order of the day concurrently with the Electricity and Water (Corporatisation) (Consequential Amendments) Bill 1995? There being no objection, that course will be followed. I remind members that in debating order of the day No. 1 they may also address their remarks to order of the day No. 2.

MR WHITECROSS (7.35): Mr Speaker, I have already spoken earlier today about the Labor Party's concerns with the timing and consideration of this Bill. Our view is that this is not the kind of change that should be made in the haste in which the Government is doing it. Opportunities have not been given for proper consideration either by the Assembly or by the community at large. The ACT Electricity and Water Authority is a very significant asset of the people of Canberra, with a value of over $1.5 billion. It has a turnover of over $300m a year. It is providing essential services to ordinary people in their homes - electricity, water and sewerage services - services that people in the community can and do take for granted and have a right to take for granted.

The corporatisation that is being proposed is not the kind of change that ought to be made without the Canberra community at large having a proper understanding of what is going on and a proper chance to have their input. We do not believe that the less than two weeks we have been given so far is sufficient and, given the raft of amendments we have before us today, we certainly do not believe that members have had an adequate opportunity either to understand the amendments that have been proposed or to consider whether there are other amendments they would like to have made. I, and I am sure the Greens, have amendments we would have liked to move if we had had further time.

The corporatisation of ACTEW takes us into a new structure for the delivery of electricity and water services. Instead of having a statutory authority in a structure that is designed to be responsive to government and balances that responsiveness to government and political input with the appropriateness of operating in a commercial way, we have an electricity and water authority operating in a corporate form that is designed to promote the concepts of profit maximisation, of focusing on the bottom line. In the few statements we have been able to get out of the Minister on what his thinking is on this issue,

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