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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (29 October) . . Page.. 2433 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Mr Speaker, I think the terms of reference are also too broad and too vague in relation to potential privatisation. For example, it puts on the table all sorts of notional privatisations, such as things like Totalcare. I think there is likely to be a series of red herrings and furphies. I see the committee chasing its tail on all sorts of issues on which there is no likelihood whatsoever of government action. In my view, we are not going to see the privatisation of the Canberra Hospital or of Totalcare or probably even of ACTTAB in the short term, Mr Speaker; but those are things that the committee will occupy itself with if it is established, and that is a waste of valuable time and community resources. Mr Speaker, I ask the Assembly not to support this motion.

MR SPEAKER: Order! It being 45 minutes after the commencement of Assembly business, the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 77.

Motion (by Mr Berry) agreed to:

That the time allotted to Assembly business be extended by 30 minutes.

MR QUINLAN (12.07): Mr Speaker, I rise to agree in part with Mr Humphries in terms of his assertions about misinformation but I would like very quickly to dissociate myself with a large part of the content of what he said and particularly his style of delivery.

In the beginning there was the Fay Richwhite report which ascribed certain risk to the operation of ACTEW. In fact, it at least put ACTEW on the front line as the asset to be sold to meet the superannuation liability. It ascribed two risks. It ascribed a market risk, and that market risk was then applied mercilessly by the Chief Minister and the Government to the whole of ACTEW, even though that risk was only applied to the retail operations of ACTEW. That was the first great element of misinformation in this debate and it is an element that might be teased out if there is a rational inquiry at which questions could be asked and examined without the limitations that apply in this chamber.

Secondly, there was the Fay Richwhite identified regulatory risk. Somehow, since the emergence of the ABN AMRO report, the Government, even though it used Fay Richwhite as the trigger to put ACTEW on the line, has found itself quite able to claim, and to claim again, that there is no problem with regulation; that there will be no problem with regulation over environmental activities; that there will be no impact on the environment; and that there will be no problem with the regulation of prices. So one or other of the elements that we have heard from the Government has been misinformation. Overall, in fact, the Fay Richwhite report, the trigger, must therefore be considered of very limited value.

We have received since that time the ABN AMRO report which, amongst other things, is highly dismissive of any consequences of the sale of ACTEW and its impact on the total ACT economy. I would have thought that any member of this place, no matter what political party he represents, would want to know, before we flog off the biggest business in town, whether there are any flow-on effects. The Government does not want that debate because it does not suit the cause. The Government has made up its mind

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