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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 3729 ..

Water and Electricity Charges

MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, my question is to Mr De Domenico, the Minister for Urban Services. Minister, recently ACTEW announced that they wished to increase water charges in the Territory by up to 50 per cent and increase electricity charges by 6 per cent. Minister, do you support the increasing of water rates by 50 per cent and electricity charges by 6 per cent?

MR DE DOMENICO: As it so happens, I personally do not, Mr Wood; but it does not matter whether I do or whether I do not. Because the Government has placed in line an independent pricing tribunal, it is up to ACTEW, the Government and anybody else in this community who wants to go before that tribunal to put forward their point of view. This Assembly, including people opposite, supported the establishment of the independent pricing tribunal. Once again, as this Government will always do, once we appoint an umpire we will abide by the umpire's ruling.

MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, I ask a supplementary question. I draw Mr De Domenico's attention to the fact that he is a shareholder - one of two shareholders. This is a body which you are controlling. Do you wish to get some of that water and wash your hands of any responsibility entirely? Secondly, is it not the case that - - -

Mr De Domenico: Secondly, Mr Speaker?

MR WOOD: As part of my supplementary question, Mr De Domenico. I know you want to avoid things. Is it not the case that your purpose in setting ACTEW up in its present manner is to avoid the sorts of decisions and the sorts of opinions that I am now putting to you?

MR DE DOMENICO: The answer to the last part of the question is no, of course not. Mr Wood would realise that it was not our amendment to the legislation; it was Mr Osborne's amendment, which we supported, and which you supported too, Mr Wood, if I recall correctly. I think you supported that amendment. I think you have to have the courage of your convictions, and the guts, to say, "I supported that because I thought it was a good idea". We believe it was a good idea. It is now up to ACTEW and up to others to go before an umpire, and it is the umpire that makes the decision.

Mr Berry: You can direct them. The two shareholders can direct them.

MR DE DOMENICO: Mr Berry interjects, "You can direct them". It is a pity you did not direct VITAB, Mr Berry, to pull out of the deal that cost us $4m.

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