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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (30 April) . . Page.. 228 ..

Mr Berry: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. Mr Quinlan's understanding of the issue was not the subject of the question. The subject of the question was clearly set out and the Chief Minister should attempt to answer it.

MR SPEAKER: The Chief Minister is beginning to answer the question. There is no point of order.

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I am very happy to answer the question. Again, the economic value that Mr Quinlan quotes has absolutely nothing to do with either the revenue or the profitability of ACTEW. In fact, 9 per cent of ACTEW's clients are non-domestic. That is not a lot. They make up - wait for this - 62 per cent of ACTEW's revenue. We know that those non-domestic clients are the ones that are open to contestability right now. I think it shows very definitely that there is significant risk for ACTEW right across the board if we do not do anything. But I have to say that we have not made a decision, unlike those opposite, on the way forward for ACTEW at the moment. In fact, the whole basis of the scoping study is to look at things such as whether ACTEW should be disaggregated, which the board of ACTEW has asked us to look at, and what sort of approach we should take in the future - whether it should be to increase the risk profile for ACTEW or whether it would be something like a merger, maybe a franchise arrangement or maybe a total sale. Maybe we should be looking - and we certainly will be looking - at selling or other forms or approaches for certain pieces of ACTEW. That is what a scoping study does, Mr Speaker.

I am very pleased that Mr Quinlan supports the scoping study, and supports the scoping study looking at really important issues such as which bits of ACTEW should go to the market and which bit should not, or should the lot go to the market. But it is fascinating, Mr Speaker, because those opposite really cannot get their act together on this. Mr Quinlan has indicated that he is willing to look at the electricity retail part going to the market; I think he said that this morning. At lunchtime I heard Mr Corbell say, "I did not think he wanted anything to go to the market". Mr Quinlan made the point on radio the other morning that he could understand that electricity prices would have to go up. On the same day Mr Berry said that he would not accept a situation where commercial users of electricity stopped subsidising the domestic users - exactly what Mr Quinlan had said that morning. I think they should get their act together across there.

MR QUINLAN: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Are all of the businesses that got a listing in the Canberra Times this morning subject to the same level of risk, or is this just a scare tactic to muddy the waters in relation to ACTEW?

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, all of the businesses that were listed in the Canberra Times this morning have to be reviewed under national competition policy.

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