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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (29 October) . . Page.. 2461 ..

Mr Kaine: Were there four years still to run or were they just four-year contracts?

MR HUMPHRIES: I do not know. I know that there was a four-year contract afoot which was converted, as I understand it, to a five-year contract. He says, "existing four-year period to a five-year period". However, I will get further information about that and supply it to Mr Hargreaves.

MR HARGREAVES: Thank you, Minister, for that. Can you also confirm - I think I heard it said, but I would just like you to confirm it for me - that the Government now does not condone the issuing of these rather generous contracts, five-year contracts, to senior executives while other members of the staff there have been guaranteed security only for 12 months? Can you also tell us what conditions would apply to those executives who, in your words, did have their contracts cancelled, say, five minutes afterwards? What sorts of compensatory provisions, separation provisions, would apply?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I could not answer the second half of that question. I would have to obtain information about that. I point out that there is a second round of estimates coming up very soon and Mr Hargreaves might be able to get more information about that at that point. As I say, I do not know the answer to the second half of that question. As far as the first half of the question is concerned, I chose my words very carefully. I repeat: The Government was not consulted about the extensions. It could be said that the imagery of providing those extensions in the context of the present debate is unfortunate and I doubt that the Government would have provided a swift affirmative response to the chief executive or to ACTEW had it consulted the Government before making those extensions.

Mr Stanhope: Did you tell him that?

MR HUMPHRIES: I have not spoken to him, Mr Stanhope.

ACTEW - Sale

MS TUCKER: My question is directed to the Acting Chief Minister and relates to the sale of ACTEW. The Government's decision to sell ACTEW was influenced by the advice contained in the ABN AMRO report; yet the Government's review of this report by David Hughes pointed out that the report had a number of shortcomings. In particular, Mr Hughes notes that the discussion of which option best meets policy interest, consumer business and employee objectives could have been done more comprehensively. Given these inadequacies, will you be requiring the consultant to do further work on these aspects of this report or commissioning further studies to deal with these issues?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, there are two ways of approaching that issue. One is to seek further studies and further work, either to obtain the same consultant's further work on it or to get other consultants to do that kind of work. Mr Speaker, I think that the issue is such a complex one and such a large one that it would be literally impossible to endlessly obtain new information on this subject, quite literally never come to the bottom of the well, if one descended down that path.

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