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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 1485 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

There is simply nothing to be lost by referring this to the committee now. Most of the people who would support that today will have the same view next week. We might as well do it now. I am not suggesting that I disagree with this paper. I think there are some interesting and good ideas in it. We are not obstructing the purpose of it. Let the committee look at it. Let us generate and facilitate a debate.

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (4.12): Mr Speaker, if the Assembly wants to slow down the process, that is fine. It is not a problem. Our view was that the Assembly wanted an operational independent entity, and that is what we were attempting to provide in as fast a timeframe as possible. I think we could probably pull the Assembly together now and maybe get a different outcome, but if those opposite want to spend a lot of time looking at this, taking into account that that will elongate the timeframe, it is no skin off our nose.

MR CORBELL (4.12): Mr Speaker, I think the Chief Minister is being a little bit loose with the debate that occurred in the Assembly back in June. You can see quite clearly that the Assembly wanted the Government to come back with a report by August, but for the Chief Minister then to suggest that that means that we must act on it immediately, like next week - - -

Ms Carnell: No, I did not say that.

Mr Humphries: She did not say that.

Ms Carnell: I have not asked you to act. What did I say? Come on.

MR CORBELL: That is what she did say when Mr Quinlan initially suggested that it be referred to his committee. She said, "Well, it had better report by next week". That clearly shows to me that the Government has an agenda here that they really would like everyone else to move along with.

Mr Speaker, the whole point of the independent body, as proposed by Ms Tucker and others in this place, is that the agenda on competition policy is not driven from any one quarter in this Assembly, particularly from the Government. We have already seen, from the Government side of things, the so-called independent complaints process used as an excuse to ditch the Belconnen pool idea, and we do not want to see that sort of process hijacked by the Executive or by any other party again. So, it is entirely appropriate, Mr Speaker, that, instead of that, there is a referral, quite sensibly, to the Chief Minister's Committee because that committee has representation from all sides of this Assembly. They can seriously and responsibly reflect on the proposition put to us by the Chief Minister, and then this Assembly can decide, after that examination, what the most appropriate course of action should be. I think that is entirely responsible. It is entirely in keeping with the proposition that was put and agreed to by this Assembly back in June. For the Chief Minister to suggest otherwise is simply untrue.

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