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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 2796 ..

MR DE DOMENICO (continuing):

For the information of members, and Mr Osborne in particular, I am happy to advise the Assembly of what developments have taken place to date. The realistic options available to the Government are to set up its own tribunal from scratch, use the services of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, or use the tribunals of other jurisdictions. It should also be noted that the Government regards the establishment of the tribunal as an essential part of its complying with the competition principles agreed by all State and Territory governments. One of the criteria that the Government is mindful of when investigating the best ways of achieving a pricing oversight mechanism is what is the most justifiable and cost-effective to ACT consumers. It is also important to retain as much consistency as possible with other jurisdictions.

At this stage the Government's preference is to seek the assistance of the New South Wales Government Pricing Tribunal. The tribunal has already indicated to us its willingness to assist the ACT Government in this regard. Accordingly, the Chief Minister has written to the Premier of New South Wales seeking his in-principle agreement to the tribunal undertaking pricing oversight activities for the ACT Government. Legislation currently before the New South Wales Parliament will permit the tribunal to undertake such tasks for other governments, with the agreement of the New South Wales Premier. We expect that the regulatory framework will be in place in the first half of the new year, certainly well before any price rises are contemplated by ACTEW. I assure members that the process in establishing this pricing oversight body will be transparent. I will keep members informed of further developments.

Parliamentary Counsel

MR MOORE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister, who is in charge of the public service. Chief Minister, over recent weeks and months the chief parliamentary counsel has had no time available to meet with me and to discuss the legislation that I wish to present to the Assembly. Does the Chief Minister agree that it is now time to transfer responsibility for parliamentary counsel to the Speaker?

Ms Follett: Hear, hear!

Mr Humphries: You did not want to do it.

MRS CARNELL: That is certainly true. This is an issue that has been discussed a lot in this Assembly. In opposition we - - -

Mr Berry: When he was telling the truth.

MRS CARNELL: No. We supported it in principle at that stage and we are certainly willing to discuss the matter, Mr Moore. We have to ensure that parliamentary counsel is available to members of the crossbenches and members of the Opposition, just as it is to the Government. I am disappointed that you have had as much trouble as you have had in getting such an appointment to discuss legislation that is important to this house. I certainly will do everything in my power to ensure that that meeting occurs.

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