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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 3 Hansard (28 May) . . Page.. 785 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

that there have been some problems in the work of that forum and how they would address the issues of the public interest and competition policy, it has been very disappointing to see the way the Chief Minister has been so prepared to malign them and to undermine their credibility. I notice that Mr Brian Acworth, the chair of that group, has also stated his objections to that.

I think it is very important that we in this place support their function; to say, yes, we acknowledge that they need more support; that we want to work with them so that the community will have a forum in which to debate the public interest in the implementation of competition policy. It was the case that such a forum existed under the Labor Federal Government, and the Liberal Federal Government disbanded that group. They obviously were not interested at all in having this sort of community forum for debate. The Liberal Government in this Assembly also voted against the establishment of that forum; but, fortunately, the majority of members did see the importance of it.

It has now become even more obvious to the community that we need to have such a forum. There is growing concern about the way the competition policy principles are being implemented in the ACT. We heard this week how competitive neutrality will be a plug to all business - not just significant business, which is all that is required under the agreement. We have not heard any really good reasons or rationale for that, or how the public interest was assessed. Of course, with the issue of the Belconnen pool, the Milk Authority and many other issues - I could list CityScape as well - the community is starting to understand what competition policy is about. It is actually starting to touch them now. It is even more important and more possible that this forum will be able to work effectively now because the interest is there. I am pleased to see that other members are also supporting that forum. I hope we will be able to work with the forum and support it appropriately so that it can progress this debate.

ACT Housing Properties - Causeway

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (6.32): Mr Speaker, I missed the opening of Mr Quinlan's short address on the residents of the Causeway, but there is only one point to make here. This is an issue that Mr Quinlan raised during the election and he beats the drum every now and then. He has trotted out the drum yet again. The department tells me that they have no correspondence from the residents at the Causeway.

Mr Quinlan asked me a question during the week about a letter dated 29 April that was sent to the 45 housing tenants in the Causeway. I would like to inform this place of how those letters were delivered and what progress has been made. Apparently, a housing liaison officer from the department delivered those letters personally. This young lady hand-delivered these letters and where residents were home she took the opportunity to engage in conversation with them and ask whether they had any concerns. It has been relayed to me that none raised any concerns. The letter invites residents, if they wish, to contact ACT Housing to discuss the matter. Guess what. No calls, no correspondence. Apparently, apart from Mr Quinlan, there are no worries at all with the process.

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