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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (21 May) . . Page.. 510 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

what will happen to the Tuggeranong Homestead and we will see the development of the lake foreshore plan. All this will combine to enhance arts in general and the promotion of culture, certainly in Tuggeranong in the electorate of Brindabella; but that is a good cornerstone for the whole of the ACT, Mr Deputy Speaker.

Mr Kaine, do you want to say a few words on your meeting next Monday night? No. I think that all of the views that have been expressed here are in the positive. I think we can always look at the funding. We can do comparisons between sport and the arts and all those sorts of things; but, whilst a large number of members in this Assembly make the effort to come and speak on an issue like the arts, the future of the arts in the ACT is a great future.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, thank you for that. That concludes this debate on the importance of the arts in the ACT.

Final Report

Debate resumed from 29 April 1998, on motion by Ms Carnell:

That the Assembly takes note of the paper.

MR CORBELL (4.34): Mr Deputy Speaker, the ALP has looked very closely at the report by the firm Fay Richwhite in relation to risks and strategic issues in a changing business environment, which the Government issued a number of weeks ago. The Labor Party has always expressed its very grave concerns about the current Government's agenda in relation to the future ownership of ACTEW. I must admit that, in the last Assembly, when the Labor Party discovered that the firm Fay Richwhite was undertaking this analysis, our concerns were not in any way relieved. This is because the firm Fay Richwhite has been involved in a number of privatisations. I am not sure about here in Australia, but certainly in New Zealand, where I understand the firm is based, it has undertaken a wide range of analyses which have led to the privatisation of public utilities, where Fay Richwhite has actually been involved in the sale process in some way. So, we certainly approach this report with a degree of scepticism and concern. I think that is a responsible approach.

Mr Deputy Speaker, to put this report into some context, I would like to outline the history of the privatisation debate in the Territory to date. It is quite clear that, up until 30 April this year, the Chief Minister consistently ruled out the option of privatisation, which she said was not on the Government's agenda. But, on 30 April this year, a Canberra Times article reported that for the first time the Chief Minister had indicated that an ACTEW sale or merger was a real option. That comes to the nub of our concerns on this issue. ACTEW is a very valuable Territory-owned corporation. It has total assets worth $1.4 billion; it had revenue of $351m in the last financial year; and it employs close to 1,200 Canberrans. It is a very important asset. Indeed, it is one of the Territory's most valuable assets. It is appropriate that the Government take every step possible to ensure that it is managed in a responsible and appropriate way.

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