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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 2096 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

When Mr Kaine became Minister for Urban Services, he started to do something to attempt to stop the rot, because he understood that public transport is a public good. (Extension of time granted) Mr Kaine understood that you needed to bargain sensibly. Mr Kaine has indicated today, if I understand him correctly, that he would have continued, effectively, the full range of negotiations that the Government should now be embarking on. That is not what we have seen from gung-ho Brendan over there. That is not what we have seen from the man who thinks he knows how to run industrial relations in the ACT. Instead, we have seen a provocative approach, an approach which will return us to the days of reduced patronage a la Tony De Domenico. We have seen a provocative approach in him telling this Assembly something which is not backed up by the facts.

There is no doubt that this Government has been engineering a dispute and that the bottom line for this Government must be to get back to the table and negotiate. Withdraw your offer of tender, withdraw the seeking of expressions of interest, get back to the table and negotiate in good faith, as any sensible industrial relations Minister would. Stop playing games with Canberra's public transport system.

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (3.42): Mr Speaker, I seek leave to move an amendment.

Leave granted.

MS CARNELL: I move the following amendment:

Omit "taking any measures towards privatisation of ACTION, the tendering", substitute "privatisation of ACTION, the contracting".

I think it is very important that at this stage of negotiations and procedures with regard to ACTION the Government be allowed to continue both with the negotiations and with the expressions of interest. The Government has always made it very clear that we believe that before any final tender or contract is signed it would be essential to bring that back to the Assembly. Mr Smyth announced that, I think, on the day that he announced he was going out for expressions of interest. I think legislation would need to be brought forward at that stage. The Government has no intention whatsoever of going forward to a contract stage without the okay of the Assembly, but I think it would be very unwise at this stage not to continue with the approach we have in place.

I note that Mr Kaine agrees with me this time. Last time we debated this, in 1995, Mr Kaine did not agree with me because I said we should support the then motion. Mr Kaine went on to suggest that he did not agree with me at that stage because the Government must be given an opportunity to continue with negotiations generally. I could read all his words but I will not. They are on pages 679 and 680 of Hansard. I think Mr Kaine made some very good points there, suggesting that it would be inappropriate for the process of government to be somehow curtailed under these circumstances.

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