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Mr Moore: We still can.

MR WHITECROSS: Mr Moore says that we still can. Presumably, Mr Moore will then suggest that we change it later. I cannot see how that aids certainty in ACTEW. We still think it is heading in the right direction. Mr Speaker, I should say that, from the Labor Party's point of view, some external regulation of pricing is certainly important, because only recently Mr De Domenico allowed ACTEW to put up prices by amounts higher than ACTEW said, only last year in its financial plan, that it would put up prices.

Mr De Domenico: The CPI.

MR WHITECROSS: No; that is not what is in its financial plan, Mr De Domenico. The financial plan, which is less than a year old, I was told, is out of date, even though it is a five-year financial plan. The price increases projected in the financial plan as the maximum increases that ACTEW would bring forward were exceeded in relation to electricity and water, although not for sewerage, as I recall. So, we do have some concerns. We also have some concerns that, looking to the future, ACTEW seems intent on increasing its projected profitability and return on net assets, et cetera, and we are worried that that might be indicating price rises. So, some regulation of charges along the lines that Mr Osborne has suggested is certainly useful. We are heartened by his concern about this matter. It is a matter which is of deep concern to the Labor Party, and that is why we will be supporting the amendments.

MS TUCKER (11.14): Mr Speaker, the Greens are very sympathetic to the reasons why Mr Osborne has moved this amendment. The need for social justice, openness and equity in pricing is of fundamental importance. How can we trust monopoly business - which has as its major aim to make as much profit as possible - also to make socially responsible pricing decisions? The Bill, as it stands, leaves the judgment on pricing proposals from ACTEW to the responsible Minister. Quite clearly, being responsible for raising prices for services, even when such price increases are economically warranted, is not something that a politician would do lightly. I, therefore, believe that the idea of an independent pricing body is a good idea. However, what Mr Osborne's amendment lacks is clear guidelines for the pricing. On what basis is it suggested that prices be determined? Will pricing take into account the cost of externalities, such as the impact on greenhouse gases or an expressed need by the community for increasing expenditure on environmental controls? Will the pricing body take into account in its determinations the need to encourage conservation? Will it make recommendations about how social equity can be achieved through the pricing structure?

All of these major considerations, it appears to me, are left for the regulations. I am not suggesting that the legislation should contain very detailed guidelines about how the pricing body should go about its business. I merely suggest that it would be appropriate for the legislation to contain general guidelines stating its aims and objectives. These could be consideration of the impact of pricing on the environment and issues relating to social justice and equity. As the amendment stands, it is up to the Government to provide these guidelines through regulations. I, for one, would feel more comfortable

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