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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (26 May) . . Page.. 587 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

I think that it is sad that we actually have the problems that we have today in relation to the application, willy-nilly, of national competition policy rules to public facilities like swimming pools without any notice to the people of Belconnen that their desire to have a significant facility constructed is simply thought to be of absolutely no interest, that the people of Belconnen would not have any view on what constitutes the public benefit.

It seems to me that we must go back to taws and that we must revisit the work of the Competition Policy Forum. Two years ago this Assembly resolved that we establish a forum. The evidence available to me, discussions I have had with members of the forum and communications I have had with them fly in the face of the stated position of this Government about the worth of the Competition Policy Forum. It seems to me that there has been a deliberate campaign by the Government and by the Public Service to undermine the operations of the forum. I think it is terrible. The fact that we have done that has actually led us to a situation today where the body which was established by this Assembly to facilitate the establishment of notions of public benefit has been undermined in the way that it has. It is something that we must revisit. The Competition Policy Forum must be given some legs and some support.

MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Hird): Order! The member's time has expired. Does the member want an extension of time? No, you cannot have one.

Mr Wood: He had five minutes while you were reading.

MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, Mr Wood! Thank you for your lecture. I call Mr Osborne.

MR OSBORNE (4.20): Thank you, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker. You are doing a fine job up there. You look good in that spot, actually. It is a shame that you could not get the numbers in the party room.

Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, before I get into the subject of competition policy, I would like to make it clear at the outset that I have no problem with competition in itself; nor do I have any problem with free market economics. I think it is obvious that those societies which have shown a commitment to free markets this century generally have been free societies. The major competing economic theory this century has been the command economy - and it proved to be a social and economic disaster. I am also aware that India had a system that borrowed ideas from both capitalism and communism, called the "Third Way". You will notice the general Indian theme running through my office! India must have borrowed the worst ideas from both, because I do not think anyone would claim that it was an outrageous success.

I start by making my basic support of competition and free markets clear because I know how easy it is for the disciples of competition policy to paint anyone who criticises their god as an economic heretic. I know that in criticising elements of competition policy some will attempt to twist my words and claim that I am one of those Neanderthals who are opposed to any sort of competition. These people would be better served by taking

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