Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (28 October) . . Page.. 2379 ..
MR QUINLAN (4.26): I shall be very brief, Mr Speaker. Much has been said and I can only be repetitive. I do not want to indulge in the debate other than to say that, in looking at the Hansard for yesterday, I can see that Mr Corbell's complete statement included references to further figures which clearly demonstrate that at least two of the suppliers in Melbourne have come nowhere near the standard achieved by the SECV in terms of customer minutes off supply and, further, that the figures immediately below those used by Mr Humphries in his table, the customer interruption frequency, show a steady increase since 1995 from 3.4 to 3.7, to 4.2. I do believe that members should be looking at this question of what Mr Corbell said completely, not just selectively, because that paragraph split in the Hansard was purely an arbitrary insertion, I guess, by Hansard staff and the numbers used overall quite clearly support Mr Corbell's original contention. Therefore, the censure motion, I think, is poorly based.
MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (4.28): Mr Quinlan is absolutely correct. The debate should be taken in the complete circumstance. The fiction that Mr Corbell seeks to create is that essential services are "a service which the private sector has demonstrated it is unable to provide". He says that in the Canberra Times. He goes on to say in the Hansard that it has increased under private ownership. If we want to look at this in the complete, Mr Speaker, one must look at the complete timeframe. One must go from 1994 to 1998. Across that timeframe, using two different sets of figures, Mr Corbell is wrong. Mr Corbell is wrong because in 1993 the average minutes without supply per customer was 315. Under private enterprise, that dropped to 252 minutes, 255 minutes, and 203 minutes. It went up slightly to 218 and then it dropped again to 199 minutes, Mr Speaker. It is quite clear that, over the four years, the service level was better and that the interruption decreased. Mr Corbell seeks to take a fact from one year, across one year, and say, "Because I have a fact, therefore, it is so". He says:
Far from being outdated, Labor's position on public ownership of Actew supports the reliable supply of essential services as a public service, a service which the private sector has demonstrated it is unable to provide.
Based on the use of one fact - a comparison between two years - he seeks to say that over a four-year period the private sector has been unable to provide this service. He is wrong. He went on, after having that letter published in the Canberra Times, to say it again in this place. He said:
It was privatised by the Kennett government in around 1994/95. It was a staged process. Mr Speaker, in Victoria the rate of blackouts, power outages and power failures has increased under private ownership.
That is not correct. That is quite clear if you look at either the set of figures provided by the Regulator-General or the set of figures that Mr Humphries offered to Mr Corbell to show that he was wrong and to show that, in comparison, the performance of private enterprise in this regard has been much better; but Mr Corbell seeks to ignore that. I am not sure if he did - Mr Corbell can correct me if I misheard him - but I thought I heard him say that he had checked these figures with the Regulator-General.