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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 2155 ..


Motion (by Mr Humphries) agreed to:

That Executive business be called on.


MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (11.31): Mr Speaker, I move:

That this Assembly, pursuant to subsection 16(4) of the Territory Owned Corporations Act 1990 and noting that the voting shareholders of ACTEW Corporation support the disposal, approves the disposal of the main undertakings of Ecowise Services Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of ACTEW Corporation Ltd, to Ecowise Services Australia Pty Ltd.

Mr Speaker, Ecowise Services is a subsidiary of ACTEW which provides a range of electro-technical services and employs 48 staff. Members of this house would be aware that a proposal has been put forward by ACTEW and by the staff of Ecowise for the staff to buy the company. Mr Speaker, I understand that most of the staff - in fact, all except two - form part of the buyout group. Some of them are in the Assembly today. Employees have signed a petition, which I think has gone to members of this Assembly, requesting that the sale be allowed to proceed. Yesterday in this house Mr Corbell was more than happy to respond to an anonymous letter. I hope he is as willing to respond to a letter signed by a large number of the employees of Ecowise.

Mr Speaker, I think that members would be aware, because I am very sure that members have been briefed on this, that the proposed sale price is $1.5m. That is made up of $1.4m in assets and about $100,000 in goodwill. Mr Speaker, the proposed sale price has been independently assessed as a reasonable price. That independent assessment has, I think, been forwarded to Mr Corbell and he has a copy of it. I am more than willing to provide a copy to any other members who would like one. The advice shows that Ecowise's maintainable earnings for the past two years have been $52,000 and $815 respectively. Based on these maintainable earnings, the true value of the business is much less than the amount offered by the employee buyout group. In other words, Mr Speaker, this is a good deal for the Territory and for the staff. The employee buyout group have offered this price because they believe that they will be able to make a real go of this business. The staff believe that with the increased flexibility and, of course, the incentives of running their own business they really will be able to trade through what could be a difficult time for Ecowise over the next couple of years.

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