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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (27 October) . . Page.. 2297 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

which was during the election campaign, when it had an opportunity to seek the approval of the people of Canberra for a certain policy agenda. It did not do that. So, is it any wonder that people are disillusioned, that people think they cannot do anything to actually stop the sale?

I ask, not so much of the Government but of the members of the crossbenches: What are your concerns? What are your issues with privatisation? State them publicly. Let us know what you are thinking. Let us know what you are tossing around in your minds. Do not simply say, "We have an open mind". Engage in the debate. Engage in this most important of all public debates. If there is any debate which is important, this debate on privatisation must be it.

We are talking about essential services. We are talking about the provision of water, sewerage and electricity services to the people of Canberra. I think the people of Canberra believe that the members of the crossbenches owe it to them to state their views. As I said at the beginning, they do not necessarily have to reveal how they are going to vote, because we can appreciate that they may genuinely be weighing it up in their minds. But at least they can raise the issues that they have concerns about, the issues that they are wondering about and the issues that they want addressed. We want an informed debate; we want a credible debate; and we want a debate which engages all parts of this Assembly and which recognises the consequences of privatising our most valuable asset - ACTEW Corporation.

MR HUMPHRIES (Acting Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (4.19): Mr Speaker, let me start my remarks by addressing this question about a so-called failure to fully put a position before the Assembly and before the community before the last election. Mr Speaker, it seems to me very strange for Labor Party members to be arguing in this debate that the Government somehow promised that it was not going to sell ACTEW, when they made it perfectly clear that they considered our re-election to be a precursor for the selling of ACTEW and we ourselves made it perfectly clear that we would not rule out the sale of ACTEW.

On that second question, here is a heading from the Canberra Times: "Carnell refuses to rule out ACTEW sell-off". Indeed, she did, quite explicitly, and said that we would await the available evidence on ACTEW's financial position before making a decision. The second issue is what Labor itself said. Here is a release from Mr Berry as Leader of the Opposition: "Liberals to sell ACTEW". He cannot claim that the Liberals were going to sell ACTEW before the election and then claim, when they actually do get re-elected by a very significant margin over the Labor Party and actually propose to do so, that somehow they have not got a basis on which to do so.

Mr Stanhope: I hate to use the word, but that is disingenuous.

MR SPEAKER: You will not use the word at all. Mr Corbell was heard in total silence by the Government. I expect the same courtesy to be extended to Mr Humphries.

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