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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (28 October) . . Page.. 2391 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

The claim made by the Chief Minister in her list, in my limited close observation, is consistent with the practice of the Chief Minister. We know she gets excited about things and we know that there is pressure in the ACTEW privatisation debate, but that does not excuse the level of this particular error.

There were 175 sites. The major point is that the error was made twice in the press release. Both times the so-called error favoured the point that the Chief Minister was trying to make. We had sites called customers when we were losing them, and we had sites called customers when we were gaining them. That is a curious and difficult coincidence to accept, but I do accept that it is serious stuff when we have censure motions based on happenings outside this place. I also think that there is a grave danger in censure motions based on how somebody interpreted figures when the figures themselves have not been challenged. If we devolve or degenerate to that stage, it would probably be as dangerous as the very real danger that the Attorney-General has pointed out.

MS TUCKER (5.10): I will be speaking to the motion. Having listened to the argument this afternoon, I do not want to spend a lot of time on it, to be honest. I wish it were not taking so much time, so that we could get on with the real business of the day. I notice that the motion from Mr Humphries does not use the words "recklessly misled" or "deliberately misled". The figures presented were not complete. Mr Corbell has acknowledged that he used those figures to support his arguments. We have heard from the Labor Party that the Government has misled and has misrepresented issues around ACTEW. I agree that that has been the case.

I take Mr Humphries' point that it would be a precedent to censure people for things that they say in the community, although I must say that it is pretty outrageous that it happens in the community and that it should be okay if it happens there and less okay if it happens in the Assembly. We would all hope that such a spin was not put on figures as often as is the case. This is a very good supporting argument this afternoon for the proposal I will put tomorrow for a select committee. We need to have a less political forum in which to look at these issues and to look at these figures.

MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The member should not foreshadow something that is coming before the house.

MS TUCKER: Fine. As I read what Mr Corbell said yesterday, he did preface a fairly long statement with an assertion that under private ownership there were increased blackouts, power outages and power failures in Victoria. He went on to support that statement with a number of arguments, including what happened in Melbourne and including what happened in other regions. Mr Humphries has picked up that the figures were not complete. I have heard Mr Corbell acknowledge that they were not complete, but I agree with Mr Corbell that the speech needs to be seen in its whole context. He argued that these difficulties have increased under private ownership.

I hear the other side ask why we should believe any of the further arguments that Mr Corbell presents. I am not in a position to judge that, so I will give Mr Corbell the benefit of the doubt that the other figures he presented to support his statement were correct. If that is not the case, we will no doubt hear about that later.

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