Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 961 ..
Mr Moore: But they might meet in a big hall.
MR CORBELL: They might meet in a big hall; they might hope that lots of other people come along and watch. Ultimately, they will make the decision about the future of the company. Then, under the requirements of the Territory Owned Corporations Act, they will notify the Assembly of their decision. When will they do that? They will notify the Assembly of their decision within 15 sitting days of making the decision.
Mr Hargreaves: After the decision has been made.
MR CORBELL: After the decision has been made, as my colleague Mr Hargreaves points out. That is why there must be a requirement for the Assembly to make the decision, and that is why I have proposed this piece of legislation. It is disingenuous of the Government to suggest that, of course, the Assembly will be informed because we have to amend the Territory Owned Corporations Act. We all know that will happen after the sale takes place, and the Assembly will be put in the position of revoking a business deal entered into by the Territory. We do not want that to be the position; that is not the way to do business. That is why we are proposing that up front, before any decision on the sale is made, the Assembly must approve. That is what the Bill is about.
The Chief Minister talked about a number of other issues in relation to this Bill. The first, and obviously the one of greatest contention, is the issue of a special majority. I want to assure members this evening that, if they choose to support this Bill, they are not choosing to put in place a two-thirds majority or, indeed, any special majority in relation to this Bill. What they are supporting is, firstly, the right of the Assembly to vote on any decision before it takes place; and, secondly, a provision in the Bill which, if the Assembly so decides, makes allowance for a special majority. I do not want to enter into the debate about special majorities this evening because the Bill itself does not indicate what a special majority will be. It simply says, "If the Assembly makes a decision to create a standing order which provides for a special majority, the Bill recognises that in relation to the Assembly making a decision". I do not want to enter the debate about a special majority this evening because I have on the notice paper a matter that deals with that issue. I will bring that matter forward for debate at an appropriate time.
What I want the Assembly to consider tonight is the issue of the Bill itself - the issue of whether or not this Assembly should have a say or should have the say. Mr Speaker, it is a fundamentally important principle that the fate of corporations and other business enterprises that are owned by the Territory is decided by the people of the Territory. That is the simple proposition behind this Bill. These are not assets owned by the Chief Minister alone. These are not assets owned by Mr Moore alone, or owned by me alone. They are owned by all of us. All of us in this community that we call Canberra have invested in these organisations. All of us have built up these organisations to be strong, effective and efficient publicly-owned enterprises. All of us should have a say on whether or not they remain in our hands, owned by us, the public, or whether they are sold to a private owner.