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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 2168 ..

MR SPEAKER: I did not hear it; but I am sure that, if it was unparliamentary, the Chief Minister will withdraw it.

Ms Carnell: It is definitely withdrawn.

MR SPEAKER: Please proceed, Mr Quinlan.

MR QUINLAN: As you are aware, Mr Speaker, the ALP is not interested in job losses of any kind; so we would not like to see the remaining structure of ACTEW cut by that 4 or 5 per cent, but I would like to hear of the senior executives volunteering for a 4 or 5 per cent cut in salary packages, given that they have less of a business to run. I understand that the packages are a whole lot better than they used to be when I worked there, unfortunately.

I have to say that part of the argument that has come forward - virtually the only argument that has come forward - from the Government is: What if it loses business? That, to me, is a resounding vote of no confidence in the board and management of ACTEW. If that is the major problem, if you do not believe that this corporatised entity can run a subsidiary business as effectively as the private sector, do something about the core problem. Do not throw it away. Address the real problem. That is the real problem and that is the only case you have put across this table.

I have immense sympathy for the staff involved. They are now working in an atmosphere of fear for their jobs. ACTEW, over the last couple of years, has been consistently and deliberately destabilised. This buyout is clutching at straws. If that atmosphere did not exist, you may have a different vote on the number of people that want to buy the place, to take the punt and go out on their own. But the alternative, it would appear to the casual observer, is to take it now or probably be redundant tomorrow anyway and on the street. I ask the members of the crossbench, particularly the absent members of the crossbench who, I hope, are watching this debate on closed circuit, to reject this proposal. If they will not, then they are not being responsible and are not exercising their responsibility to the community of Canberra, because we are talking about assets of the community of Canberra. (Extension of time granted) If they are not moved by ideology of one sort or another, they ought to reject this proposal on the basis that no case has been made.

I noticed earlier Mr Rugendyke reading Mr Glanville's letter of 29 July. If Mr Rugendyke can convince me at lunchtime that he understands the numbers on page 2 of that letter and can fully assimilate them, I will be very happy to see him vote according to his ideological bent. Otherwise, I believe that he and Mr Osborne and the other members of the crossbench are duty-bound to reject this proposal for no other reason than that there has been no case made for it.

MR SPEAKER: I understand that it is the wish of the Assembly to suspend for lunch. That being so, the resumption of the debate on this motion will be set down as an order of the day for a later hour this day.

Sitting suspended from 12.26 to 2.30 pm

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