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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (23 June) . . Page.. 801 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

Governments around Australia are now asking themselves why Australians are not taking to their grand ideas. I think it is quite simple. You never asked them. You confined your debates on ideas which would radically change their lives to bureaucrats, peak industry bodies and this country's executive governments. Then you foisted those ideas on parliaments around the country and said that we had no room to manoeuvre. You said that we could not change a word of the sermon that had been delivered from the mount. Then you interpreted the agreement to suit your own ideological agenda.

This report keenly examines the public benefit test that is a key part of the competition policy reform package and makes a series of recommendations. How many times have we been told that we have no choice in the way we go about exposing our public utilities, our regulated industries and our laws to competition policy? Yet this report says that we should not pursue competition for competition's sake. This report says that the ultimate decisions on the weighing up of the costs and benefits are basically political ones, to be justified by the parliament and, in the final analysis, by the electors. In another place it says that the agenda for the application of the competition neutrality principles is a matter for each government to decide. The reality is that we do have a choice. Parliaments around the country are not tied to some completely unbending model that has been imposed on us from on high. Yet it appears that this Government would have us believe otherwise.

In the committee's recommendations we find some very interesting reading. The committee makes a series of recommendations on the public benefit test and it is interesting to note that the Federal Government agreed to almost every one. Recommendation 1 has 14 parts. Part (j) says:

Where possible reviewers should be independent of the existing arrangements with more significant, more major and more sensitive reviews demanding greater independence;

Excuse me! How does the Government review of the milk industry in the ACT line up with this recommendation? I do not wish to question the integrity of the person conducting this review. I am certain that it is above reproach. However, I do question the motives of the Government, which has compromised the process and has conducted an internal review of a process which clearly should have been held in public. I have to say, Mr Speaker, that I have had enough. I am flagging today my intention to set up a body independent of the Executive to conduct future reviews and to review the decision handed down by the inquiry into milk.

Another recommendation says:

Where reviews are undertaken by persons closely involved in the activity in question, there should be provision for a review or reconsideration of the initial conclusion by some person or body independent of the relevant activity;

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