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This amendment seeks to ensure that a fully informed debate can take place in the community before any action to privatise ACTEW is taken by the Executive and this Assembly. We consider this an issue of the utmost importance. It is for this reason that we have sought to ensure that, should a government seek to privatise ACTEW, a public inquiry into the social, environmental and economic impacts of privatisation of ACTEW will be mandatory before taking any legislative or Executive action. An inquiry will have access to all the information it desires and it will be able to fully report to the community on any privatisation plan. The inquiry committee will reflect the composition of the Assembly and derive its path from the ACT Inquiries Act. As the Government has said on many occasions, it has no plans to privatise ACTEW. Therefore, we hope that it will be happy to support this amendment.
MR DE DOMENICO (Minister for Urban Services) (12.27 am): Mr Speaker, the Government will not be supporting this amendment; and it will not be supporting this amendment quite simply because, first of all, the Government has no plans whatsoever to privatise. Even if it did, before it could do anything it would have to come to this Assembly with legislation. It would be up to the members of this Assembly either to accept or to reject that. That is why I think that the amendment is superfluous and we will not be supporting it.
MR WHITECROSS (12.27 am): Mr Speaker, the Labor Party will be supporting the amendment. I accept Mr De Domenico's assurance that the Carnell Government does not have any current intention to privatise ACTEW. I have no reason to doubt Mr De Domenico's word on this or Mrs Carnell's word on this, but what we are talking about here is legislation. Governments come and go, but legislation goes on forever. It does not seem to me that there is anything wrong with ensuring that there is an inquiry before that happens.
Mr De Domenico has made a claim about the need to come back with legislation, but he has not explained the logic of that to me. So, in the absence of that logic I am happy to support Ms Tucker's amendment.
Mr De Domenico: Because you would need an Act of parliament to do it; and the only place where you can do it is in here.
MR WHITECROSS: You are claiming that; but there is a provision in subsection (6), Mr De Domenico, which suggests a method by which it might be able to be done other than that.
Mr De Domenico: How?
MR WHITECROSS: It is there in subsection (6), Mr De Domenico. If it can be contemplated by the drafters of the amendment, then I would have thought that it should be contemplated seriously by us. This mechanism provides a way forward. If, as Mr De Domenico argues, a future government brings forward legislation, then - - -
Mr De Domenico: It has to.