Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 8 Hansard (24 October) . . Page.. 1919 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
As Professor John Quiggin has pointed out, achieving the Hilmer reforms also requires big job losses in the public sector and, despite some gains in the private sector, the overall impact on employment is likely to be negative. I urge other members to consider these issues seriously and not just accept national uniform legislation that is based on an underlying philosophy that may not be in the best interests of residents or the natural environment in the ACT.
MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister) (11.00): This Bill, as Mr Wood has already said, has had a quite long gestation to this point, through the Follett Labor Government and the Kaine Alliance Government to the stage in April, at my first COAG meeting, where I was given the opportunity to sign the agreement on behalf of the Territory. Most of the preliminary work had been done by Ms Follett and had certainly been agreed to by the previous Government. Ms Follett made a couple of statements in this place on the ACT's agreement with the approach that had been taken by the Federal Labor Government. We have a signed agreement between all States and Territories and the Federal Government to take a joint approach on this legislation, and the Competition Policy Reform Act is what has flowed from that.
It might be nice for us to become an island. We could perhaps dig a moat all the way around the ACT and pretend that we are not part of Australia. Not passing this Bill, or making the substantial amendments I have seen that the ACT Greens seem to think are appropriate here, simply cannot make a difference. New South Wales has already passed the legislation, and the legislation will be passed in all other State jurisdictions, because they signed the agreement, as I did, which will make this happen at a Federal level. All that the ACT could possibly achieve by either substantially changing the legislation or not passing it would be not to get the ACT's share of the payments that have been allocated under this reform approach, which I think is $3.7m in 1997-98, moving up to $10.4m per annum by the year 2001-02. We could be really smart here! We could make some amendments so that we would lose our share. It would not make one speck of difference to what happens nationally. It would not make one speck of difference to national competition, to the electricity grid, to the approach to gas or to any other area of competition, except that the ACT would not get its share of the money. I think that is probably a pretty stupid approach.
Some of the issues raised by Ms Tucker are very real issues. As we move to being a more competitive nation, a nation that can compete in our region and with the rest of the world, we must keep in mind environmental issues, issues to do with lifestyle and with the way we live in this country; but, quite seriously, a moat around the ACT is not the way to go.
MR DE DOMENICO (Minister for Urban Services and Minister for Business, Employment and Tourism) (11.03), in reply: I thank all the members for their contributions. I specifically thank Mr Wood for the way in which he has comprehensively analysed the Competition Policy Reform Bill. Can I, first of all, say that Mr Wood and other members who have been in this Assembly for long enough would have realised that negotiations first started on this topic back in the days when Mr Kaine was Chief Minister in 1991. In fact, I am told that the first Special Premiers Conference meeting in Brisbane in 1991 started the negotiations about this legislation. It was carried through,