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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (28 October) . . Page.. 2346 ..

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, the Government has no plans to privatise Totalcare. If Ms Tucker wants to go through a list and ask whether I will rule out any future different consideration for Totalcare, the answer is no, I will not, but I will give the same answer for virtually every activity in the ACT that the Government conducts. I have to say to you very clearly that if you want to build an argument that we are planning to privatise everything in the ACT, it is a fairly poor way to build a case, if that is so.

MS TUCKER: I ask a supplementary question. I assume that the Government is concerned about maintaining the competitiveness of Totalcare. So has the Government undertaken, or does it intend to undertake, any studies into its future?

MR HUMPHRIES: I am not aware, Mr Speaker, of any studies into Totalcare. I am not aware that we are planning to undertake any studies, apart from the usual reviews and assessments of its ongoing performance which are provided for in a number of devices which are already familiar to members of this place.

ACTEW - Contracts

MR QUINLAN: My question, Mr Speaker, is to the Acting Chief Minister. In July this year the chief executive of ACTEW advised staff that ACTEW was to receive a letter from the Chief Minister asking it to go into "caretaker mode" pending the outcome of the scoping study. That memo, in referring to the Chief Minister's letter, included the words "It will specifically ask that we do not enter any enterprise agreement that extends beyond the end of this financial year". Can the Acting Chief Minister confirm that it is the case that some or all of the senior executives of ACTEW have entered into five-year contracts commencing in July this year, some of which were signed subsequent to July this year? As a shareholder of ACTEW, does he concede that this is extremely inconsistent treatment of staff, particularly given that the senior executives have previously received payment levels which include compensation for the fact that they no longer have certainty of tenure or lifetime tenure in their jobs?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, my understanding of the arrangement with ACTEW, as I have already explained to the house, is with respect to matters which constitute major new contracts. My understanding is that such contracts will be discussed with the Government before they are entered into, rather than being totally precluded. Mr Quinlan suggests that there are what he would presumably class as major new contracts entered into with senior staff. I have no knowledge of those contracts. I look forward to finding out whether there have been any such contracts entered into. Again, you will forgive me if I do not assume that what you have told me is necessarily true but rather wait until there has been an opportunity for me to find out what the story is. I am advised that we are seeking an answer from ACTEW and we hope to have an answer for you by the end of question time.

MR QUINLAN: I have a supplementary question. While you are doing that, will you also seek an answer on the secondary question, which is: Will the same facility be afforded other valuable employees of ACTEW, that they also may receive five-year contracts to operate from this year, despite the fact that it is in caretaker mode?

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