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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (19 May) . . Page.. 325 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

Mr Carr said:

I will not stand by and watch regional communities and jobs be destroyed by ideologically driven policies.

The NSW Government believes this is the best decision for the State.

I seek leave to table this document, Mr Speaker.

Leave granted.

MR RUGENDYKE: Chief Minister, Premier Carr's decision to continue to regulate the New South Wales milk industry until 2003 was taken because apparently he sees a clear public benefit in the regulation of milk. Will the Chief Minister direct the inquiry into the ACT milk industry to take the New South Wales position into account when deciding the fate of our milk industry?

MS CARNELL: Obviously, that is the case. New South Wales was due to deregulate on 1 July, so I assume that New South Wales is going to have to get some legislation into its parliament very quickly now. Bob Carr, under a huge amount of pressure, has decided to go down this path. The issue of what happens in New South Wales is absolutely essential and central to what happens in the ACT. We are required to do a review under national competition policy, as is New South Wales. One of the things that the Premier has made quite clear is that he will go down this path as long as it does not affect his competition policy payments. I think he has actually made that point.

We all have to take those things into account. As part of the review that we must enter into for our legislation surrounding milk in the ACT, the New South Wales decision will be taken into account. What we have tended to do with regard to New South Wales in the past is align our policy directions, wherever possible, simply because we are an island in the middle of New South Wales. But, at the end of the day, the inquiry will look at this and at New South Wales and will, hopefully, make an appropriate recommendation.

MR RUGENDYKE: Thank you, Chief Minister. Can you assure this place that, like Premier Carr, you will do everything in your power to protect jobs in the local milk industry and consumers from price hikes?

MS CARNELL: Obviously, we will be protecting jobs in the ACT in this area. It is important to remember that Premier Carr did actually put two conditions on his statement today. Those two conditions were that the Government reserves the right to review the matter if market forces have a negative impact on the industry and that the Government reserves the right to review the matter when the NCC reviews the second tranche payments to New South Wales, estimated at $100m, in July 1999. There are a few little caveats on this, Mr Speaker; but, for all of that, the ACT will protect jobs and it will certainly take into account what is happening in New South Wales.

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