Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 1653 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
There are some other issues with this report that also need to be addressed. The first is the issue of public benefit. I have seen no assessment in this report of the public benefit of retaining ACTTAB in public hands. In fact, there is absolutely no mention of public benefit. Where is the public benefit test? We have heard competition policy quoted again and again on the issue of privatisation. We have heard the Chief Minister, other Ministers of this Government, and other officials of this Government argue time and again that the new rigours imposed upon the Territory by competition policy require us to look very carefully at whether or not assets like ACTTAB should be retained in public hands. Well, if that is the case, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, where is the mention of the public benefit? Where is that mentioned? Where is the assessment of the public benefit? There is none. For the Chief Minister to come into this place and argue that we have no choice, because the New South Wales Government is selling theirs and the Northern Territory Government is selling theirs, and not mention the public benefit is absolutely unacceptable.
On those grounds too, this is not an independent and impartial analysis. Again, it is not the fault of the consultants. It was the fact that the Government set the ground rules. The Government got the result they wanted, and damn the consequences, and damn any other evidence that should be assessed.
The union which represents the workers at ACTTAB has conducted an exemplary campaign. The union has argued strongly that the interests of their workers are paramount. They have argued coherently and they have argued in an exceptional way the benefits that are derived from maintaining ACTTAB in public ownership. If this Government is going to walk into this place and start making the argument for selling ACTTAB they had better do it on some grounds that are more solid than this. This is a flimsy attempt to justify privatisation.
We discovered today, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, that one of the three-person panel involved in assessing this report is now an endorsed Liberal candidate for the next Federal election here in the ACT. For the ordinary person on the street, things must not only be independent, they must be seen to be independent. That cannot be said - - -
Ms Carnell: Does that mean that the input of the union is not independent either? You would have to rule it out then, would you not, because of the Labor Party connection?
MR CORBELL: The Chief Minister interjects. I will respond to her interjection. She says, "Does that mean we should ignore what the union says?". The Chief Minister does not understand the difference between those people who were invited to make submissions and those people who were making the judgments contained in the report. There is a very big difference. Yes, I would argue that it would be inappropriate for the union to be involved in making the judgments when putting together a report. They should be making the arguments, on behalf of their members, in submissions, and that is what they are doing. But that is not what Mr Morison was doing. Mr Morison was assisting in the preparation and the writing of the report. That is a very different course. As I argued earlier, you must not only be independent, you must be seen to be independent.