Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (27 October) . . Page.. 2266 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
I repeat that:
... improved profitability of the businesses was coupled with improved or maintained service performance.
Mr Speaker, service to customers and profitability are not mutually exclusive concepts. It is about time that the ALP sorted out whether they are more interested in the ideology of not selling government enterprises than in improving the quality of services to people in this community, whether they are in the way of electricity, water or sewerage services. Mr Speaker, the regime we have proposed is a very tight regime with control over prices, with control over environmental and public health standards and with monitoring by an independent body, including input from bodies such as ACTCOSS. The disadvantaged will be no worse off and they will have greater rights of appeal than they currently do. The consumers' rights will be enhanced and extended indeed under this regime.
Mr Speaker, if Mr Corbell and others in this debate want to use misinformation, that is fine; but they can expect to be exposed in that process, because the facts speak for themselves. Deregulation and the operation of a number of these utilities in the private sector have led to substantial improvements and gains for consumers and customers in the States where they have been effected.
MR QUINLAN: Is the Acting Treasurer aware that the ACT's unfunded superannuation liability is, in proportional terms, among the lowest in the country? Although the superannuation liability represents a challenge to government, is it not a matter that merits rational debate rather than the scaremongering that has occurred over recent time?
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I am glad to see Mr Quinlan acknowledging that some scaremongering has gone on, because it has certainly been the case from Mr Quinlan's side of politics and it certainly is a matter that I think all of us in this debate who want to see the facts put upon the table view with some concern. The debt facing the ACT at the present time, that is, the debt we currently incur for superannuation, is manageable. The ACT could certainly afford to pay out liabilities that are presently arising under the normal turnover of public servants that one would expect. If our whole work force were wiped out in a plague or something, we would have a real problem on our hands; but we look forward to that not being the case. So, our present liabilities are not a major problem. But the evidence before us, from a series of reports now, is that the rising cost of that superannuation liability is going to be crippling for the ACT in future years.
Mr Speaker, the total size of that debt over the next 40 years will be $2.9 billion. That is a colossal liability which we cannot meet in any other way - other than the option put forward by the Government or something similar - than through either the massive reduction of services to the people of the ACT or a significant rise in taxes and charges paid by the people of this Territory.