Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 9 Hansard (18 November) . . Page.. 2615 ..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
Indeed, I believe that some of the initial work that Mr Whitcombe did in the Kinlyside area covered some of the remains of the historic buildings up there, including the well. Does the report assist the Government? Of course it does. We will use it as a management tool to progress the provision of rural residential leases in the ACT.
MR KAINE: I am still not clear why the Government spent the money, Mr Speaker, but my supplementary question relates to the land areas that have been identified. In the preamble to this report it is noted that the ACT Rural Policy Taskforce had already advised the Government that rural residential development was inappropriate on productive agricultural lands. This report identifies three sites where residential rural development might take place. One of them is the Melrose Valley. Do you agree, Minister, that the Melrose Valley is non-productive agricultural land? If you do, you are in disagreement with the current lessee.
MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, the Government, in its response to the Rural Policy Taskforce, said quite clearly that it rejected that recommendation of the task force as the Government felt that there was the desire and the need to offer the people of Canberra the choice of rural residential leases. Mr Humphries made that quite clear when he rejected that recommendation of the task force. He said that the Government would continue with its research into rural residential development.
MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister. Will she agree to request ACTEW Corporation to release to the Assembly its most recent submission to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Commission so that the community can see what projections ACTEW itself is making in relation to expected income over the next five years?
MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I have not seen that report. ACTEW puts forward its own submissions to the independent regulatory commissioner, Paul Baxter. They do not come through the shareholders, nor would you expect them to. But I do understand that the information provided is of a commercial-in-confidence nature - in other words, information that could be used by competitors to impact upon ACTEW's operations. Contrary to obviously what those opposite would do, I have no ambition, no intention whatsoever, of undermining ACTEW's commercial position.
MR CORBELL: I would like to point out to the Chief Minister that the report was not commercial-in-confidence a week ago when Mr Mackay and the Chief Minister indicated that there would be no problem in providing it to the Estimates Committee. I ask the Chief Minister: Will she indicate whether she has had any discussions with the chief executive of ACTEW, Mr Mackay, following his and her own commitment at the recent Estimates Committee hearings to release this document? Did she instruct Mr Mackay not to release the document? Further, how can she credibly claim that the Canberra community can believe her claims about the future profitability of ACTEW if the most recent evidence available on profitability from ACTEW itself, as outlined in its IPARC submission, is not available for open examination?