Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 8 Hansard (24 October) . . Page.. 1952 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
have to be unpleasant when you make these points, though. It does nothing for your argument. It is absolutely true that the Green senators did raise concerns, but if you look at the Senate Hansard I think you will see that a lot of your Liberal colleagues and National Party members also had very serious concerns about the impact of the legislation there.
The proposed terms of reference, therefore, seek to achieve two things. First of all, the inquiry by the select committee would have to determine the impact of enactment of the Bill on the Assembly's and the Government's ability to pursue and protect social, environmental and economic objectives for the ACT. This assessment will have to be thorough, as the potential impact of the Bill is so wide ranging. Secondly, but no less importantly, the committee will be asked to determine whether there are alternative options that would bring the same benefits to the Territory. We are told that the Bill and the market reforms it brings are the solution to all our problems; yet we are not told what other options, if any, have been considered and why, if any were considered, they were rejected. We are also told that the impact of the reforms will be positive. We are not convinced. In fact, the ACT Greens believe that there is real potential for serious negative impacts. Therefore, we ask that the committee investigate options for preventing negative impacts.
In summary, the ACT Greens believe that a select committee with the terms of reference proposed will ensure a more thorough understanding of the impact of the Competition Policy Reform Bill, potential alternatives, and ways in which adverse effects can be alleviated.
MS FOLLETT (Leader of the Opposition) (3.46): The Opposition will be supporting this motion. In fact, there has been negotiation around the motion since this morning when the issue first arose for debate. Although I have been in a somewhat privileged position, having been involved in the national discussions on competition policy for some years and having only just missed out on the culmination of those discussions earlier this year, I still believe that in discussing competition policy for Australia there are a great many issues that need to be quite clearly specified so that the community, the governments and parliaments involved, and also the organisations who will be directly affected by a competition policy, the government business enterprises and so on, are aware of what the important issues are.
I was concerned in the debate on competition policy to ensure that there would be benefits for the community overall as a result of this reform process, and the kinds of benefits that I was anxious to see were, of course, benefits to the consumers; of course, benefits by way of community service obligations on the organisations involved; of course, greater environmental protection, and so on. But it seemed to me that in the debate on competition policy, while there was often lip-service paid to those kinds of issues, it was the rhetoric of competition and of reform that seized the moment and these other issues were not given, throughout that debate, the kind of profile they deserved.
I support the competition reforms that are going on around Australia, and I think we have already seen at least some evidence that competition means a better outcome for consumers. If you look at things like telephones, airlines and so on, you will see that, where there is genuine competition, very often the consumers get a better deal.