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Now, in opposition, this mob opposite seek to stymie our reform plans, even when they should have seen that there is an obvious place for corporatisation in government business. They seem to have learnt nothing from the drubbing they received on 18 February. They still have not woken up to the fact that they have been rejected by the people of Canberra and that their no-change agenda desperately needs changing. They have turned the Opposition benches in the ACT Assembly into the political equivalent of Jurassic Park, a place inhabited by ideas and policies that have long been extinct everywhere else. There is Tyrannosaurus Wayne, who desperately wants to be king of the dinosaurs, spouting ancient rhetoric about the evils of profit - we are a bit sad that he did not do that one tonight - and describing our doctors as grasping predators. Then there is Terrydactyl Connolly, who likes to soar above the other dinosaurs, taking the high moral ground, although some suspect that he is really spying out greener pastures. The tragedy for the people of Canberra is that these dinosaurs are not content just to practise their palaeolithic politics; they want to drag the ACT community back there with them.
By contrast, this Government is looking to the future. Like other governments around Australia, we believe that there are better ways to deliver services. That is all this is about - better ways to deliver services. Like the new Labor Government of New South Wales, we believe that introducing competition into service delivery will deliver a better deal for consumers by putting the focus back on meeting the consumer's needs - away from the bureaucracy; back to the consumer. That is what this is about. It will deliver a better deal for taxpayers by producing greater efficiency through competitive forces. The corporatisation of ACTEW is a step down that path. It will separate ACTEW from the public service bureaucracy, with its focus on the process of the government, and allow ACTEW to focus more clearly on consumer service. It will allow ACTEW to focus more clearly on who they are as an enterprise, to give them a greater corporate identity.
It has now been four years since the corporatisation of ACTEW was first proposed and almost completed. It certainly is not a new idea. It is an idea that has been debated extensively. It is now time to turn the idea into reality. If we hold another committee inquiry into corporatisation, it will waste time and, most of all, it will waste the opportunity for ACTEW to gain just a small head start on the corporatisation agenda of their New South Wales competitors.
Mr Speaker, you would think we were debating something that had never before been debated anywhere in Australia or the world. The facts of the matter are that corporatisation has been debated everywhere before. The benefits of corporatisation have actually been well documented. They have been well documented to those opposite and to the Greens and to whoever else wants to listen. The fact is that organisations like ACTEW do not operate well under bureaucratic processes, and that is exactly where they are operating now under the Public Sector Management Act. They need to have their own identity; they need to have their own flexibility. To assume for a moment that employees working in the sorts of areas that ACTEW employees work in would operate under the same guidelines as those employees who work in the bureaucracy behind desks in our public service is simply ridiculous. What this gives them is flexibility to have their own corporate structure, and it does give them a small opportunity to have a head start on New South Wales, and that is very important.