Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (29 October) . . Page.. 2426 ..
MR KAINE (continuing):
or the week after that, or in February, so that an intelligent and informed debate can take place, I would much prefer that than waiting for a select committee to dig up the information. Where is a select committee going to get its information from? It is going to have to ask the Government for most of it. If the Government can provide it to a select committee they can provide it to this house. Why set up the structure of a select committee?
As I said at the beginning, Mr Speaker, I am in a quandary. I need information, and I am sure everybody else in this place needs a hell of a lot of information that we do not currently have before we can make an intelligent decision about this matter. I am not certain that a select committee is the best way to get it. I am not certain that the Government could not provide the data and the information if they were of a mind to do it. That would seem to me to be a more direct way of getting information. If the Government are honest and open about this need, then let us have them convince me and you.
Ms Tucker: You are so trusting. I cannot work it out.
MR KAINE: I am a trusting person. I would like to see the matter resolved. I accept that the Chief Minister has a point when she says that, if selling is the way to go, there is a strong probability that the longer you leave the decision the less money you might get for the thing. There is an element of veracity in that proposition. If we decide at the end of the day that the Chief Minister's proposal is the right one, I do not want to see us lose $100m or $200m by sitting here and arguing the toss about it for six or eight months. I would much prefer to get the information so that we can make the decision now, or as soon as possible. I think the Chief Minister has a point there. We should be making the decision quickly, but the decision might be that we do not sell it once all the information is on the table.
I suppose I am having six bob each way. I am waiting for the conclusion of this debate to hear what the Government has to say about the provision of all this information. I think there is an enormous amount of information that we need. If it is not available, how has the Government been able to make a decision? If they do not have the information, how have they been able to make a decision and reach this conclusion? If the information is available, they should make it available to us.
MR CORBELL (11.43): The Labor Party will be supporting this motion this morning. We believe that this is a sensible course of action for this Assembly to take. As Ms Tucker highlighted earlier, the decision on selling ACTEW, or whether or not to sell ACTEW, is undoubtedly one of the most significant decisions this Assembly has ever been asked to make since self-government. It is not a decision that can be taken lightly, and it is not a decision that can be taken without full access to all of the information, as Mr Kaine pointed out in his comments.
What is clear, Mr Speaker, is that this Assembly has mechanisms for dealing with complex and important issues in a considered way. This Assembly frequently refers matters of a complex nature to committees for inquiry and report. We have established strong conventions that the committee system is the most appropriate course of action when considering issues of a complex nature. I would be very disappointed if this Assembly