Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 2211 ..
MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (4.40), in reply: Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I will try to be brief, but a few of the points raised in the debate need to be sorted out for the record. This morning Mr Corbell stated that, assuming that the business continued as it had been going to date and profits of $240,000 per annum, I think he said, were maintained, the sale price would be realised in six years and the difference of $400,000 between the sale price and employee entitlements would be achieved in less than two years. I think they were the comments that Mr Corbell made. If it were the case, we would not be debating this issue today - I think everyone would realise that - because, quite seriously, the sale under the current terms would not stack up.
The facts simply do not support Mr Corbell's assertion. The independent expert advice which Mr Corbell, the Labor Party and others were able to see and have copies of shows that very clearly. The factual material provided for Mr Corbell and the others shows that, I think, $285,495 that was part of the profit approach this year was attributed to abnormal items. I think it was a past bill for ACT public housing. That is something that Mr Corbell knew when he started to mess around with the figures. He also knew that expert advice showed that the actual maintainable earnings achieved last year was $815. Using Mr Corbell's approach, I could prove that at that rate it would take 1,800 years, I think, to realise the same nominal amount as the sale price. Obviously, that is patently ridiculous.
I think that the bottom line here for everyone to realise is that it was the Ecowise employees who came to the Government and who have come to members of the Assembly - - -
Mr Hargreaves: Come on, drop the facade. It is not true and you know it.
MS CARNELL: It is true, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker. I think it is exciting that Ecowise employees are interested in owning their own company. I would just like to quote one employee, Tony Fitzgerald, who said on Prime TV the other night:
It's the best opportunity I think all of these people here are ever going to have in their lives to buy in and own their own business.
I have to say as a small business owner that I think it is pretty exciting to own your own business. I have always found it really exciting, and it has been something that has been very good to me. Private sector growth to the end of the March quarter this year was higher in the ACT than in any other State in Australia. That is a pretty impressive exercise. It does show that private sector growth is happening in the ACT. I am sure that Ecowise will be very much a part of that in the future.
Mr Quinlan made a number of comments - I notice he is back - with regard to Ecowise. I think Mr Quinlan should have checked what Ecowise actually does now. It is not doing the same as it was when you were in ACTEW, Mr Quinlan. What does Ecowise do? Ecowise employees are not linesmen; they are electricians. They do things like install meters and fix electrical appliances. What they do not do is touch the electricity network. That is not their job. Yet this morning you were trying to indicate that that was the case. Also, Mr Quinlan was making comments about scale economies.