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(b) the inter-generational equity principle, namely, that the present generation should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment is maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations;
(c) conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity;
(d) improved valuation and pricing of environmental resources.
‘(3) The principal objectives of the Company are of equal importance.’.”.
In moving the amendment, I would like to add that having sound objectives is only one aspect of meeting social and environmental objectives. As we stated this morning in moving the motion to set up a select committee, there were several amendments we have not been able to have drafted and which we feel should be in these pieces of legislation. These include entrenchment of consumer rights, setting environmental targets, community consultation processes, and assurances that ACTEW will get involved in providing energy services in the broader sense. I heard Mr De Domenico and Mr Moore say that they were pleased with the process here and that, as people new to the Assembly, we should be reassured that things are done well. I am sorry, but it just does not look that way to us. Maybe because we are new to this place we have a fresh picture of this. It may seem fine to you, but I can assure you that it does not look fine to us. There is a lot more work that should have been done on this Bill before it got anywhere near this point of debate.
Much of the basic motivation behind corporatisation is to involve the ACT in the Hilmer competition reforms, which focus on economic efficiency, including competitive changes to government-owned enterprises. However, there has been widespread community concern about the competition reforms, particularly on social and environmental grounds - we have mentioned this several times today - and the Greens share that concern. While we accept the need for and opportunities that arise from improved operational efficiency, we do not accept an obsession with predominantly commercial objectives above all else. Water, in particular, should be managed as a natural system and not as a marketplace.
The Greens constantly call for social and environmental obligations to be given equal weighting with economic efficiency concerns, and this is no different in the case of ACTEW. This amendment, in conjunction with the amendment regarding environmental, social justice and employee representatives on the board, goes part way to ensuring that these concerns are given the weight they deserve in the decisions of ACTEW. It would be desirable that the legislation go one step further and set specific targets and processes for meeting these objectives. Revenue capping, for example, is one way of ensuring that ACTEW does not have any incentive to increase profit by increasing the amount of electricity sold; but it does not discourage the company from investing in energy efficiency services for its customers. This would also address social equity concerns.