Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 959 ..
MR QUINLAN (continuing):
The numbers in the house are such that we do have a minority government. The Government has 61/2; we on this side of the house have six; and the crossbenches have 41/2. It follows that decisions cannot be left to 61/2, and we have had arguments from the Chief Minister in this place that decisions should not be left to a minority in the Assembly. It follows that significant privatisation decisions must be debated in this place and decided in this place. The fate of the people's assets should be decided in the people's house. I commend the Bill.
MS TUCKER (9.36): The Greens will be supporting the Bill, although I do want to make it clear that I am actually uncomfortable with the proposal that there should be a greater majority necessary; but that is not what is actually being debated tonight. All this does is enable Mr Corbell's proposal to be put into effect if a standing order is changed. I would not support that being changed, but I am happy enough to support this as it stands because I do believe it is very important that any decisions on Territory-owned corporations and the sale of them should certainly be vigorously debated. This Bill is certainly ensuring that. It also ensures, hopefully, that no subsidiaries of Territory-owned corporations could be sold.
I am concerned, obviously, about the way the review of ACTEW has been framed. I believe most of the terms of reference deal with the sale value of ACTEW, the possible timing of the sale, the impact of the sale on services and consumer protection, the implications for other legislation and the way to achieve the maximum yield. With terms of reference like that, it would be difficult for an independent reviewer, through no fault of their own, to come up with anything other than a recommendation for sale. The terms, in their attitude to the environment, are also biased towards a sale. ACTEW is described as being at risk because of competition from alternative energy and environmental protection legislation. In fact, alternative energy and strict legislation are challenges for ACTEW. This could enhance its profitability, rather than putting it at risk. I close by saying that, obviously, I believe these debates need to be broad and certainly not biased in the way that the review terms of reference have been framed, so that we have as much opportunity for debate as possible.
MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (9.37): Yes, opportunity for debate is entirely appropriate and these matters ought to be debated in the Assembly prior to any decision being made; but not by this sort of legislation. I have brought a range of Bills before the Assembly over the last nine years, and a number of people have considered my Bills strange or different - and they have been - but I do not think any were as poorly conceived as this piece of legislation. I speak in particular about the special majority part of the legislation.
Mr Quinlan: We are not debating that.
MR MOORE: I hear Mr Quinlan saying that we are not debating that. I do not have a problem with such issues coming before the Assembly. The question is: Is this the best way to do it? You have already heard the Chief Minister explain that, because of the nature of the TOC Act already, it would have to come before the Assembly anyway. To put an amendment to the Territory Owned Corporations Act to ensure that the matter is debated, and to make that very clear, I do not have a problem with. I see that as reasonably sensible.