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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 9 Hansard (17 November) . . Page.. 2558 ..

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Sitting suspended from 11.31 am to 2.30 pm


ACTEW - Sale

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister. Given the failed experiences with regulatory structures in privatised public utilities within the UK, what assurances can the Chief Minister give that the potential regulatory regime for ACTEW operations will be an effective one, and how much is the model suggested in the ABN AMRO report likely to cost to implement?

MS CARNELL: I thank Mr Stanhope for at least some of it being a very sensible question. The issue of regulatory framework is really important and, I think, as ABN AMRO rightly says, it is important whether ACTEW is in public or private ownership. In fact, one of the things we have seen of recent days around Australia - in Queensland, in New South Wales - and of course in Auckland in New Zealand is a situation where, when entities that are owned by government at various levels of government are not subject to appropriate regulatory frameworks, all sorts of fairly nasty things can happen. It is not, as Mr Stanhope said, just in the situation of private ownership. It is the case, in private or public ownership, that you need appropriate regulation to ensure that people have appropriate price, access, quality, environmental frameworks and environmental confidence, I suppose, in the situation.

We will be tabling next week the initial stages of the statement of regulatory intent, which will give members of the Assembly and members of the Canberra community an opportunity to see the basis upon which we will be putting together the legislation which we will bring forward early in the new year, to ensure that legislation is in place before the final sale is completed with regard to ACTEW. I think it is essential that we do get the statement of regulatory intent right. We are currently working with ACTCOSS, other members of the community and parts of government to ensure that this is done appropriately.

The second part of Mr Stanhope's question was: What will this cost? I am not 100 per cent sure yet what it will cost. It is certainly not an inexpensive thing to do. But, as we said earlier, we believe that it is something that needs to be done whether we have an electricity and water authority in public or private ownership.

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