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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 9 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 2797 ..

MRS CARNELL (continuing):

Previously, in April, when I tabled the contract, an interim performance agreement was attached. The contracts are for executive officers and include three from the Chief Minister's Department, one from the Audit Office, one from the Attorney-General's Department, three from the Department of Health and Community Care, and seven from the Department of Education and Training.

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

MR DE DOMENICO (Minister for Urban Services) (3.21): For the information of members, I present the Government's response to Report No. 14 of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, entitled "Review of Auditor-General's Report No. 7, 1995 - ACTEW Benchmarked", and I move:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

Mr Speaker, I am pleased to table the Government's response to the Public Accounts Committee recommendations on the ACTEW Benchmarked report. The original report by the Auditor-General consisted largely of a benchmarking study reviewing ACTEW's performance by comparison with comparable utilities from Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the United States. The audit revealed functions which ACTEW performs at an efficient level and also functions where ACTEW operated less efficiently in comparison to the other utilities included in the benchmarking sample. The Government considered that the report provided a useful, independent assessment of the efficiency of ACTEW's operations, based on 1993-94 figures.

The Public Accounts Committee, following a review of the report, recommended that the Government report to the Assembly in 12 months' time on the progress by ACTEW in achieving demonstrated operational efficiencies in each of its business units; and the role and actions taken by the independent pricing regulator in assisting the objective of increased operational efficiency for ACTEW. The Government supports the Public Accounts Committee recommendations on these matters, noting that ACTEW has already made significant progress towards improving its operational efficiencies.

It should be noted that, as part of creating a regime to improve efficiencies and accountability in each of ACTEW's business units, the Government has approved the establishment of a number of separate subsidiaries within the corporation. The Government is in the process of appointing an independent Water and Energy Charges Commissioner who, with the assistance of the New South Wales Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal, will carry out a comprehensive review of ACTEW's prices. This independent review will involve the rigorous assessment of ACTEW's pricing policies and operational efficiencies. The review will consider such matters as protecting consumers from unfair prices and will look at the actual costs of providing different services and the need for greater efficiency in the supply of services.

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