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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 2161 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

probably the main cost was about $20,000 to $30,000 a year for the reporting mechanisms - annual report and so forth - to this Assembly. We do not accept that that is a significant corporate restraint, Mr Speaker. In fact, that is a quite respectable and effective accountability mechanism which any corporation, public or private, should invest in to make sure that it is being governed appropriately.

Mr Speaker, the Government has also argued that Ecowise is not core business. As I indicated earlier, if it is not core business, it is making money for us. It is going to grow into the future. (Extension of time granted) It is going to make money in the future. According to its own annual report, it is going to grow; it is going to grow in important sectors like information technology, which the Government itself argues is going to be a key part of our economy. The one time, from the Government's point of view, that the Labor Party comes in here and defends a source of revenue, what do they want to do? They want to sell it. We are interested in revenue for the Territory, but we are interested in a long-term revenue stream, not just a short-term money grab for a quick buck. That is the difference between Labor and Liberal on this issue.

Mr Speaker, the final point the Government has made is that it will proceed with the sale because there is no impact on ACTEW and on the community. There may not be much of an impact on ACTEW; we accept that. But we do not accept that there will be no impact on the Canberra community. I get back to my first point, Mr Speaker: Why do we sell an asset which returns money, which is projected for growth according to its annual report, which is going to expand in key areas and which in less than six years at its current rates of dividend returned will repay the sale price proposed today?

Why do we throw that away so that we can get $1.5m tomorrow? It is short-term thinking, Mr Speaker; it is short-term thinking of the worst order. Labor is interested in guaranteeing revenue to our Territory to provide money for services like roads, hospitals and schools well into the future. I ask the Assembly this question in closing, Mr Speaker: What happens when we have sold everything? What happens when there is nothing left to sell? How do we continue to provide the services then? If the Government's only strategy is to sell assets for revenue, it is a short-term strategy. It is one which the Labor Party will not accept and it is one which members of this Assembly should not accept, either.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (12.00): Mr Speaker, I congratulate Mr Corbell on that speech. I think it was a very good speech, a very carefully executed speech, a very brave speech.

Ms Tucker: Why do you have to be so sarcastic? Why can you not just speak, just put your points, Gary?

MR HUMPHRIES: I do not know what Ms Tucker had for breakfast this morning, Mr Speaker; but, whatever it was, I think I will avoid it in future. Mr Speaker, it was a very brave speech because I do not believe that Mr Corbell actually believed very much of what he told the Assembly today.

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