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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 4 Hansard (16 April) . . Page.. 889 ..

Tuesday, 16 April 1996


MR SPEAKER (Mr Cornwell) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.


MS FOLLETT (10.31): Mr Speaker, pursuant to order, I present the report of the Select Committee on Competition Policy Reform entitled "Report on the Inquiry into the Competition Policy Reform Bill 1995", together with the minutes of proceedings. I move:

That the report be noted.

The impetus for the establishment of a select committee to inquire into competition policy reform was the Government's presentation to the Assembly of the Competition Policy Reform Bill 1995. This Bill, which is in fact template legislation, being introduced right around the country, as members will know, has very little practical effect in the ACT. However, it is fair to say that the umbrella terms "competition" and "competition policy" have been used by the Government and by others to justify a range of activity which is, in fact, part of the Government's own agenda rather than part of competition policy. I refer to activities like corporatisation, outsourcing, tendering out, downsizing and all the rest of the current buzz words. It is a fact that competition policy has very little indeed to do with the ownership of any agency of the Government. What it does have to do with is competition or the Government's business enterprises entering into a competitive mode.

It is, I believe, quite misleading to attribute to competition policy a whole range of related and, as they are often referred to, micro-economic reforms which are not dependent on competition policy at all. It was evident in the presentation of the Competition Policy Reform Bill that the ACT Government was seeking to use the umbrella term "competition policy" in an attempt to justify many of its own activities. I think that is unfortunate because it has obscured much of the debate that ought to be occurring about moves towards the greater use of competition policy throughout Australia.

The competition policy that has been put in place in the ACT, I believe, is very much a creature of the present Government. I recognise that those are their policies; those are principles which they adhere to; those are ideologies which are dear to their party. I think most people in the community can accept that that is the way a Liberal government and, indeed, some other governments think, and to have that political view, that ideology, masked in this way does a disservice to the debate.

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