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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (29 April) . . Page.. 164 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Mr Speaker, in conclusion, this is a matter of significant public importance. These assets are incredibly valuable. They constitute a significant stream of revenue to the Territory; they constitute a significant area of employment in the Territory; and they constitute a significant level of investment by the community in assets that deliver decent, effective community services. Mr Speaker, any decision to privatise any of these assets should not be made on the whim of two shareholders and issued by press release. Instead, it should be tested on the floor of this Assembly, and that is the basis of the MPI today.

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (4.01): Mr Speaker, I actually agree with a large amount of the final part of Mr Corbell's statement. This is a very important decision. As I think I said in my tabling speech for the Fay Richwhite report, the Government has a responsibility to conduct a detailed investigation of the activities of all government business enterprises. As the owner of government business enterprises on behalf of the community, the Government needs to have a clear understanding of the business activities being undertaken and the associated risks. The whole aim of that exercise is to make sure that the highest quality services are delivered at the best prices and that prospects for fulfilling employment are enhanced. At the bottom line, that is the role of government. I would not have thought that those opposite would have doubted that.

It is the Government which is answerable to the people for the way we carry out that responsibility. As such, the Government has acted to further improve the governance, performance and accountability of government business enterprises. The recently created Government Business Enterprises Monitoring Unit will be undertaking a comprehensive and systematic review of the various government business enterprises, including all Territory-owned corporations.

Mr Speaker, the world around us is changing; but, unfortunately, those opposite simply have not noticed. People are demanding better services, and national competition policy means that our service providers have to match the best competitors. Again, Mr Speaker, the national competition policy agreement was not signed by this side of the house. It was signed by Rosemary Follett.

Mr Corbell: Do you agree with it? You always like to sneak that one around the back; but do you actually agree with it, Chief Minister?

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I am fascinated that Mr Corbell is not interested; but I do not have a problem with that. I am sure that others are interested.

Mr Speaker, the Government will therefore be seeking detailed and expert advice on the impact of changes that are occurring to the operating environment of most government business enterprises. This is to ensure that the Government is in a sound position to make key decisions to maximise the public benefit from this significant sector of the ACT economy. So as to make the whole process transparent, the terms of reference for each strategic review will be advertised, and submissions will be invited from interested parties.

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