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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 5 (Hansard) 16 May) . . Page.. 1345 ..

MR SPEAKER: Will you be quiet, please. I said that we can do it in one of two ways. We can now have a cognate debate upon the report of the committee and the Government's response. Alternatively, we will have two items on the notice paper. It is up to the Assembly; but I think the former way is probably more convenient. It is entirely up to the Assembly to decide how we do it.

Ms McRae: Thank you, Mr Speaker, for that clarification. The cognate debate was not allowed, or actually proposed, last time this happened. This is a new direction on your part. That is fine. I believe that it will be picked up in the Administration and Procedure Committee and in subsequent business meetings. Thank you for that clarification.

MR SPEAKER: Also, it being 30 minutes after the extended time for Assembly business, the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 77.

Debate (on motion by Mr Wood) adjourned.

Report on Review of Auditor-General's Report No. 7 of 1995

MR WOOD (11.52): I present Report No. 14 of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, entitled "Review of Auditor-General's Report No. 7, 1995 - ACTEW Benchmarked". I move:

That the report be noted.

Audit Report No. 7 was presented to the Assembly on 22 September. This audit is an evaluation of ACTEW's efficiency and economy in the management of its resources. The audit approach was to compare ACTEW with other organisations which undertake similar business in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the United States, using benchmarking methodology known as data envelopment analysis, or DEA. In essence, the audit found that the most efficient area of ACTEW operations was sewage treatment. Electricity distribution was found to be very efficient in management of the quantity of resources, but less efficient in ensuring the least expensive mix of resources. Water supply operations were significantly less efficient, and sewerage reticulation was found to be the least efficient of ACTEW's operations.

The audit reported ACTEW's view that the DEA does not allow normal checking and balancing mechanisms to be reviewed and the corporation's concern that factors such as the choice of inputs, volatility of models, impacts of population density, declining water consumption, sewerage reticulation, labour productivity and service quality had not been properly accounted for in the DEA model. These concerns were addressed by the audit. Further, the committee sought comment from the Minister for Urban Services, who provided an action plan on the audit findings. The thrust of the Minister's response is outlined in the committee's report.

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