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We are going to have to deal tonight with a range of amendments, all of which are extremely complex and require some further contemplation. I do not think that is something the Government is concerned about. It is only a few weeks ago that this legislation turned up. They crow about the five years of consultation that they claim has occurred. Of course, that is rubbish, and now people are going to have to get their minds around these amendments. Some of them might be only a line or two, but the issues they address are extremely complex and are issues that members of the community are entitled to examine at length. We accept that the committee process will not go ahead before the legislation is passed, and at the end of the day we will have to learn to live with whatever comes out of here. Some people will accept what the Government says, whatever it is; but those amongst us who want to sit down and closely examine the issues and how they will affect employees in ACTEW, how they will affect members of the community - rich and poor alike - believe that this legislation deserves a little more time to ferment. It is not mature. A lot of the amendments that are proposed will only confuse those who are trying to consider where we are headed in relation to this issue.
I think it is an outrageous abuse of authority in this chamber that the Government would try to hurry this Bill through. Let us not forget that this sitting this evening was not planned. It has avoided proper scrutiny of the legislation, and I think the community will be the poorer as a result. For our part, we will resist the efforts of the Government to proceed down this path. We might be foiled. We will be foiled, I fear. But it is something the Government ought to suffer some pain over. I see that Mr Moore is suffering some aggravation right now. As the night goes on, I think the point will be made over and over again.
MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister) (8.19): After that - I do not know quite what it was, whether it was a speech from Mr Berry or not - it is hard to see that this debate over corporatisation of ACTEW is not taking place in a vacuum, because that speech certainly was a vacuum. Every one of us in this Assembly owes it to the people who put us here to be aware of the national context of this debate. To pretend that we are not affected by decisions taken by other governments, or that we can decide this issue without having full regard to the ramifications of what is happening interstate, is to delude ourselves and to betray the trust of the people of the ACT. It is the people of the ACT who will lose if we are left behind in the dust as the competition caravan rolls across this country.
Mr Speaker, the world is changing. The world is changing around the ACT and it is changing rapidly. That is why we cannot afford to stand still. That is why this Government actively supports changes such as the corporatisation of ACTEW - something that ACTEW itself wants, which it seems has been overlooked by those opposite. In seeking to block these changes, the Opposition is trying to isolate the ACT from that wave of change. Were they in Eastern Europe, I am sure that they would be up there saying, “Rebuild the wall, rebuild the wall”; that is the equivalent of what they are saying here.
In taking the stand they have, the Labor Opposition is not just at odds with our position; they are directly at odds with the thinking of their Labor colleagues around Australia. I read to the Assembly some excerpts from a recent document that touched on this very same issue: