Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (29 April) . . Page.. 174 ..
MS TUCKER (4.36): Mr Speaker, this matter of public importance is something I am glad to see debated here today. I was happy to hear the Government say that it certainly imagines that there will be full debate in this place on the issue of privatisation of our Territory-owned corporations, if that is what the Government deems appropriate, and that we will all have an opportunity to actually debate this. There are a couple of comments that I will make. I do not think I have a lot of time left. I am quickly looking at this report. On page 5 it says:
Ultimately risk management will be a core competence for electricity retailers. This may require a more active approach to risk management than pursued to date. ACTEW's ability to do this will depend in part on the shareholders tolerance for risk.
Further on, in relation to strategic business risk, it says:
ACTEW's key business strategy risks centre on its ability to identify and prosecute the growth options available to it.
Obviously, there is plenty of room for ACTEW and its shareholders and members of this place to look at ways in which we can, in fact, make ACTEW competitive in the deregulated market. There are lots of opportunities. I do not think anyone here is suggesting that the "no action" option is actually a reasonable one. So, I think we have had a bit of time wasted with the Government protesting that that is a view being put. I do not think it has been a view put here particularly at all.
I actually think there is a bit of a conditioned reflex from the Government side on the issue of debates around privatisation, as they like to accuse the Labor Party of having. It is not that I am totally disagreeing that there is an element of that in the Labor Party's response as well. But the point I would like to raise right now, and that I think is just so important, is that there is no way in which I would support any privatisation of ACTEW at this point, because what we hear and see every day is that governments do not know how to do privatisation well. What we see over and over again is the disaster that results from it. There is such an arrogant rush into it.
I was fascinated to see a whole program on it recently, on the privatisation on the Metcard in Victoria. What was so fascinating about it was that the private group who took responsibility for this totally mismanaged it, did not meet deadlines, and did not produce the service that they said they would. Apparently, the private sector is so efficient. And what did Mr Kennett say? He said, "There are always teething problems. It is a bit difficult. We will give them an extension. There is a penalty clause, but we will let that go". I can just see that same Government doing that to a public sector group! It would have been an immediate excuse to privatise or sack. It is just a joke. We do not see that governments know how to ensure community - - -
Mr Corbell: What government?
MS TUCKER: I know; there is no interest. But I will put it on the record. We do not see governments coming up with a thorough analysis of how they can ensure the community interest.