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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (29 October) . . Page.. 2434 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

and therefore wants to leave that out of the debate. An inquiry might induce the Government and induce other parties who have arguments to include in this debate to examine and to let us know what is going to be the further impact on the ACT if we sell off our major asset.

It is quite clear from what Mr Humphries has said that the argument has devolved to the superannuation liability and we have to ask ourselves: Have we canvassed all the options? We have focused on a $70m contribution as one of the options for comparison. Why not a $69m flow or a $68m flow or a $50m flow? We do not know. They have some actuarial result and have picked that one. There is no justification given for that selection but that is one of the options that are given to us in examining the addressing of the superannuation liability. In fact, what has come out in relation to examining the superannuation liability has been quite limited.

Further, in the ABN AMRO report, we have a claim that there will be considerable diminution of value of ACTEW if it is not sold tomorrow, but the rationale behind that is secret consultants' business. We cannot know what that is. We cannot ask anybody to come into a committee room and explain in reasonable terms why that is so. There are some general assertions that there is a very dumb financial market out there that would pay a billion dollars for ACTEW this week and half a billion dollars in six months' time. That, clearly, has to be nonsense. I think someone wrote a letter to the Canberra Times and expressed the desire or hope that his particular superannuation fund was not going to be involved in the financing of it if the market was that stupid.

Mr Humphries said there is no point in having an inquiry because people will not change their attitudes, but we know that there are a number of people in this place who have not made up their mind. They have not made up their mind on whether to sell ACTEW or not, they have not made up their mind on whether to franchise water and sewerage or not, and they have not made up their mind to sell only part of the whole shebang or not. I have great sympathy for the crossbenchers in this debate.

My office and I, with our admittedly meagre resources, are trying to get through the very complicated issues that are involved with both the sale of ACTEW and the stream of consequences of decisions in relation to superannuation. We are dealing with the end result of actuarial calculations to which we are not privy and which we probably would not understand in detail if we did get them. But we have produced some modelling and some of that modelling shows that it does not necessarily follow that we should sell off ACTEW and forgo a dividend stream that potentially flows from ACTEW. We would be giving away $20m-plus a year in income tax equivalents which the Government now receives from ACTEW's operations. That would immediately revert to the Federal Government. Do you think they would give it back to us? Not on your nelly. The sums involved in this mean that they have to be so balanced in favour of selling ACTEW that we have to offset the loss of $20m-plus a year in perpetuity, every year. We have seen in the superannuation model and the discussion that we have addressed the peak year. We have talked about scaremongering. This is part of it. It is also part of the great misinformation process. Let us look at the full question and let us look at all of the options.

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