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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 879 ..

MS CARNELL: John Mackay, the chief executive of ACTEW, said that buying the 67,000 streetlights in Canberra was a logical move, given that ACTEW already owned the power poles and maintained the lights for the Government. It is a straight business transaction, one that will be conducted on business grounds.

MR QUINLAN: I ask a supplementary question. Chief Minister, within the operating area of the budget there is an appropriation for the maintenance and for the energy supplied to city streetlighting by ACTEW. That particular figure is business as usual. As you have been claiming to know something about accounting, what sort of accounting would allow ACTEW to pay $100m for an asset to receive from owning that asset a reduced income stream?

MS CARNELL: As I said earlier, the final negotiations have not been put in place. Because this arrangement - - -

Mr Quinlan: Hang on! Do you know this much about accounting?

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, the final arrangements have not been entered into. As I said earlier in my answer, the final figures, obviously, will have to be determined on a business basis between the board of ACTEW and, of course, the ACT Government. One thing I can be confident of in terms of my accounting expertise and one thing I know is that you do not add the streetlight sales onto the operating loss. If we are really looking at dumb accounting, operating loss equals $239m for Mr Quinlan. If Mr Quinlan does not yet know that moving an asset from one part of government to another does not actually affect the operating loss, he had better go back to accounting school.

Mr Quinlan: This is not moving assets; it is borrowing.

MS CARNELL: Borrowing is already in the operating loss.

Motor Vehicle Registration Fees

MR RUGENDYKE: My question is to Mr Smyth, the Urban Services Minister. Minister, under the revised vehicle registration fee structure announced in yesterday's budget, owners of vehicles weighing more than 1,505 kilograms will pay as much as $114 a year extra. This is a rise of more than 50 per cent. Did the Government take into consideration the fact that in a great number of cases people have to have larger cars because they have to transport a large family? Did the Government consider that in many instances they are penalising large families, who are finding it difficult to make ends meet anyway, before having this registration hike placed upon them?

MR SMYTH: I thank the member for his question. Yes, we considered many things when putting this budget together. I guess the baseline for this budget, or the bottom line, is that to improve living standards for all of us we have to address the operating debt. In an overall context this is a budget that will improve the lifestyle and the value that we all gain from living in Canberra. Through increased jobs, through better jobs, through higher-paying jobs, what we get is a better lifestyle for our families. Part of that comes

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