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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (29 April) . . Page.. 170 ..

MR QUINLAN: I am certainly saying that we should think wider than flogging it off, and we should think only in terms of the retail sector, and in your presentation of the Fay Richwhite paper you referred to the retail arm. That means that we do not necessarily have to sell our hardware to protect our asset. So, we need to take a look at this process in terms of dividing it down to its essentials. I would like the debate to take that form sooner rather than later.

I am concerned, for example, with Ecowise - and we have discussed Ecowise in this place over the last couple of days - that a few things are being said. One is that it is largely external. It is external to ACTEW; but it is not external to the Government. The bulk of its work is done within the public sector. It hangs meters for ACTEW; it is involved in traffic light controls, et cetera; it is involved in the maintenance of streetlighting; it is involved in the maintenance of government houses. I am rather concerned, if Ecowise is an example of how we make decisions around here, that what you have said previously could be interpreted as saying, "It is only 50 employees and $400,000. We will let the board decide whether they flog that off or not". You can really understand why Mr Corbell would put up a proposal that any other decision should be brought to this place. You may not care, and you may leave it to the board; but we do care. So, I commend Mr Corbell.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (4.26): Mr Speaker, I might just say that I am, I think, encouraged, but also a bit perplexed about the Labor Party's position in this area. I think in question time the Chief Minister put very clearly where the Liberal Party stands in respect of these matters. It has very clearly indicated that it believes that we need to be taking a flexible approach towards the management of our assets and, indeed, the status of our assets into the future. We are living in a highly volatile, rapidly changing environment, in an economic and financial sense, and we need to make sure that we position ourselves within that environment so as to maximise the benefits for the people of Canberra.

That is the position that the Government stated very clearly during the election campaign. In that context, the Chief Minister made it clear that the Government would not rule out any particular options which might emerge following studies such as the Fay Richwhite report, which has now hit our respective desks. I have to say that the position taken by the Labor Party during the election campaign was very different; but I accept that we have been told today that there has been a shift in the Labor Party's position, and I welcome that.

Mr Stanhope: Our platform on it has been solid for years.

MR HUMPHRIES: Your stated position by your then leader was - and I think I quote verbatim - that you would never, ever, ever sell assets like ACTEW. We can find the quote, Mr Stanhope; so do not be too dogmatic.

Mr Stanhope: Our platform is quite dogmatic.

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