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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 9 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 2676 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

liability that we will rack up next year, the year after and the year after that. Yes, you can put $250m into the superannuation account, but what does that do to ACTEW? It does exactly what Mr Quinlan said would happen when we took the $100m out last year, except 21/2 times worse. It reduces the ACTEW dividend to government. It makes life for ACTEW significantly tighter. That would be a good thing for ACTEW; there is no doubt about that. But it certainly would reduce the dividend to the ACT Government. That would make it just that much harder for us to find the money that we have to put in every year, and on it goes, Mr Deputy Speaker. So, it simply does not work. We would not be able to rely on a major dividend stream from ACTEW because dividends are falling, not rising. The dividends would fall even faster if $250m were pulled out of ACTEW.

Mr Deputy Speaker, the time for action is now. That is why this Government has chosen to go down the path of a complete sale of the ACTEW electricity business and a combined sale and franchise of the water business, with most of the proceeds being invested for superannuation, some money being paid off long-term debts and $100m going into a community fund and invested for future generations. Mr Deputy Speaker, the difference is that we are investing for the future and those opposite are passing a debt on to our kids. I do not believe that that is an appropriate approach.

Mr Stanhope said in his speech that no other government is worried, that no other government is going, I think he said, weak at the knees. Mr Deputy Speaker, he is wrong. In a media release just this week in New South Wales, Mr Egan, the Labor Treasurer, indicated that they were going to have to borrow $3.5 billion to put into their unfunded superannuation scheme. That is a huge amount of money. He is saying that he has to do that because he cannot sell off any assets as they will not let him. Here is the big choice, Mr Deputy Speaker: We sell ACTEW, an asset that is reducing in value, hopefully at the top of the market and we avoid major borrowings or we end up like Michael Egan, who would love to sell some of his electricity assets but cannot. (Extension of time granted) Michael Egan, a Labor Treasurer, said:

... instead of selling off assets of the defined benefit schemes to fund the transfers, the State Government will undertake a once-off borrowing.

The $3.2 billion loan will be paid straight to the trustees of the defined benefit schemes ...

Mr Deputy Speaker, guess what that achieves? That achieves after three years a 10 per cent reduction of $13 billion in the superannuation liability of New South Wales. So much for other States not having problems! So much for other States saying, "Look, she'll be right, mate"! I have to say that I think the $3.2 billion borrowing by Michael Egan to put into the defined benefit scheme to achieve a 10 per cent reduction in the unfunded liability over three years shows the lengths to which you have to go if you do not take the approach that we are putting forward here. Mr Egan has already made it very clear what he would prefer to do. What he would prefer to do is sell his electricity assets. Unfortunately, there are some of the same ideological views in New South Wales Labor as there are here; views that, no matter what, we will not sell, that it is better to borrow $3.2 billion than to sell an asset.

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