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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (27 October) . . Page.. 2270 ..

Mr Berry: I am warning him that, if he wants to stray, there will be a bit more straying.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, one of the issues that are being debated in that context is the question of the Government taking notice of warnings given to it about particular matters.

Mr Berry: Mr Speaker, the very point - - -

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, you have already ruled on this point of order.

MR SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

Mr Berry: I will raise it again.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Humphries is drawing a perfectly reasonable analogy between the inquest and the warnings that he is, I am sure, going to relate to ACTEW.

Mr Berry: May I sound a warning by way of a point of order? Mr Humphries was straying into evidence given to that inquiry. If he wants to open it up for everybody to stray into evidence in that inquiry, he is going the right way about it.

MR SPEAKER: There is no point of order. I repeat: Mr Humphries is well aware of how far he can refer to these matters as he is the Attorney-General.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, an issue in that context is the extent to which government heeds warnings about things that may be a problem in the future. That is a central issue in those proceedings before the court. I think a very close analogy can be drawn with these proceedings here. We have before us the clearest possible evidence of great danger to a key asset of the ACT community in the form of this scoping study and the previous study by Fay Richwhite. Mr Speaker, if we were to walk away from all this and say, "Look, we will sort it out somehow. It is 10, 15, 20 years into the future that this is going to actually hit us. We will sort it out somehow in the future. Let us ignore it at this stage. Let us ignore the warnings given to us in absolutely unequivocal terms that ACTEW's value will decline seriously in the next few years", if we ignored that advice in any other context, we would be hit like a ton of bricks in this place for having done so. Because the advice that we are getting is not particularly palatable to some members of this place, suddenly it is all right for the Government to walk away from clear warnings of that kind.

Mr Speaker, the Government will not do so. The Government will heed those warnings and it will put forward a proposal to deal with those warnings and to cope with the problems facing the future of the Territory. If we succeed in doing that, I think future generations will have something to be grateful for. If we do not succeed in doing that, we will have a serious problem that we will be handing down to other generations - a problem not of their own making.

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