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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (23 September) . . Page.. 2097 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

There is an absolute undertaking from both Mr Smyth and me that before any contract is entered into we would come back to the Assembly for the okay. What I am suggesting in this amendment to Ms Tucker's motion is that we make it clear that what we are talking about here is that before any privatisation or contract is signed we would bring the whole decision-making process to the Assembly so the Assembly could give the final tick - or for that matter cross, if that is what the Assembly wants to do - on the process. I think that is an appropriate way to go. It is certainly the approach that Mr Kaine has taken in the past. I suggest that it should be the approach that this Assembly takes now.

It would appear that those opposite have not been terribly interested in debating the issue at all. The issue is not whether we support public transport or not. Of course we support public transport. I think I made that clear. Mr Smyth made that clear. We support accessible, efficient public transport for the people of Canberra, but we do not support public transport that is coming at an unrealistically high price. I made the point earlier when I quoted the Canberra Times. Even the Canberra Times says that ACT taxpayers are not getting value for money. They are paying more per person for public transport than people are anywhere else in Australia, and not for a superior service.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why this Assembly would support a situation where we are simply not getting value for money. Let us not debate whether public transport is good or not. We all agree. It is great. You need it. It is about an equitable society, but so is a public transport system that is reflective of the needs of the community and is affordable by the people of the ACT. That is the approach the Government is taking, and hopefully we will continue to do so.

The amendment would allow the Government to continue with negotiations with the union, with the expressions of interests process and with potentially going to tender but would not allow the Government to enter into any contracts until the Assembly had signed off on that deal. That is a very appropriate approach. I think Mr Kaine made the point that it was important that governments be given the opportunity to get on with the business of government.

MR BERRY (3.44): Mrs Carnell is trying to emasculate the motion that has been moved by Ms Tucker. She is trying to turn on its head the full effect of Ms Tucker's motion and to give herself carte blanche to proceed in the way that the Government has decided to proceed from the word go, that is, to move towards the privatisation of ACTION services. What Ms Tucker's motion is about is stopping the Government from moving on this matter before approval is given by this Assembly. That is a proper move, the same approach as has been taken to privatisation of other ACT corporate bodies.

Ms Tucker's motion is right. The Government should stop immediately and do nothing more on the matter until sensible negotiations are carried out with the union, rather than doing as they intend to do and proceed behind closed doors in the dark towards the privatisation of ACTION by stealth. Kate Carnell is attempting to gut the motion and take out its meaning. The major part of Ms Tucker's motion relates to the measures towards privatisation which the Government has already announced. Ms Tucker wants to prevent the Government from taking any further clandestine steps whilst negotiations proceed with the union, as they ought to have been proceeding up to date, rather than the provocative nonsense that has been coming from Minister Smyth and the Chief Minister.

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