Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (27 October) . . Page.. 2272 ..
MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, can I say that it was completely disgraceful for the Acting Chief Minister to attempt to link the implosion inquest with his arguments on ACTEW. My question is to the Acting Chief Minister. The Estimates Committee asked ACTEW on 21 July 1998 about the loss of customers to other competitors. The chief executive officer of ACTEW, Mr John Mackay, told the Estimates Committee that it would not be fair or reasonable to make that information public because those customers are still ACTEW customers to the extent that they still use ACTEW's distribution network. Mr Mackay reiterated this position after the Chief Minister chose to selectively release that information in an extremely misleading form to the media on 14 October. Does the Acting Chief Minister, as a shareholder of ACTEW, support the Chief Minister's decision to ignore the stated preference of the CEO of ACTEW and release this information? If so, can the Acting Chief Minister explain how the CEO is wrong in his assertion that this information is commercially sensitive and its release is damaging to ACTEW or its customers?
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I do not have information about the details of discussions between the chief executive of ACTEW and the Chief Minister about this issue. I am aware that the Chief Minister stays in close contact with ACTEW about the nature of this debate in order to make sure that the position of ACTEW is not prejudiced as this particular period of debate about the future of ACTEW takes place.
Mr Corbell: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Acting Chief Minister clearly does not understand the question. The question is: Why did the Chief Minister release information which the chief executive officer of ACTEW told this Assembly's Estimates Committee that it was not appropriate to release because it was commercially sensitive? Why did the Government do that?
MR SPEAKER: There is no point of order. I think that Mr Humphries is in the throes of answering it.
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I heard the question quite clearly and I am answering it quite clearly. Mr Corbell's question assumes that the only discussion on this subject has been what was said before the Estimates Committee. Mr Speaker, I do not know whether that is the case; neither does Mr Corbell.
Mr Corbell: So, you are saying that Mr Mackay lied to the Estimates Committee?
MR HUMPHRIES: No, Mr Speaker, I am not saying that. I am saying that I do not know what discussions have taken place about that matter. I am confident that the Chief Minister, as one of the two shareholders in ACTEW, would not go about making statements designed to damage ACTEW or act in a way which was prejudicial to its future. Mr Speaker, we have acted in this debate in such a way as to indicate that we are very concerned about how to make sure ACTEW's future is assured. We are the only party, apparently - in this chamber, at least - that appears to be concerned about that.