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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 9 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 2677 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

I would like to finish by just making the point to Mr Rugendyke and others in this Assembly that we have a choice here and it is very stark. We have any amount of information on the table. Whether it be ABN AMRO or Towers Perrin, we have reports from lots of consultants. A lot of work has been done in the States. It is real. We have a choice. We have a $1 billion asset that is going to be worth half a billion dollars in a few years' time. We have a $700m superannuation liability that will be over $1 billion in a few years' time. Once we allow that to happen, there will be no capacity to pay our unfunded superannuation liability with a lump sum because we simply will not have any way to do that.

Is that what this Assembly wants? Does this Assembly want to give, I suppose, a dividend to our kids? Do we want to produce an economic situation for our kids where not only are we not giving them a debt but also we are passing on to them things like a $100m community fund that will provide dividends to the community not just now but forever? Do we want to give our kids no long-term debt or do we want to give them a debt that they simply cannot pay back? I have to say that, while I am in this Assembly, I will continue to argue, and argue strongly, that our job here as members of this Assembly is not just for tomorrow or next week; it is to ensure that the financial situation that we pass on - again, not just for this week, next week or next year - to our kids is the best we can and is one that will ensure that they will be able to enjoy the services and the quality of life that we have now. If we do not do that, we have simply let them down and let ourselves down. The fact is that those opposite cannot tell us how they would do it. We all know that the unfunded superannuation liability is going to cripple us. They are saying, "Yes, but she'll be right, mate". Let us not do that.

I finish by making a point about timeframes. The ABN AMRO report, David Hughes and others have made the point that, if we are to do something, let us do it quickly. Let us make sure that we do not just put it off. The Labor Party have said that they are not going to change their mind. Let us not just put it off. Let us make a decision. Let us not use a committee structure where half the members have already said what they think about it - in fact more than half; 80 per cent of the members have already said what they think about it. Let us not put it off. Mr Stanhope says, "Why should we hurry?". The figures show that, if we do not get this sale through by 1 July next year, it will cost us in lost interest $1m a week; yes, Mr Deputy Speaker, $1m a week.

If the money we would get from ACTEW passed over to the ACT on 30 June next year, it would be invested and it would produce $1m a week. Mr Quinlan is talking about the ACTEW dividend. This year, I think we would be very lucky to pick up $30m. Certainly, it would be down again next year. So, it is not $1m a week at all. The reality here is that if we do not go ahead quickly we will lose money in interest and the value of ACTEW will continue to reduce. So, what we could get for it would reduce and the money we could get in interest obviously would be lost, and lost for what purpose? None. So, there is a reason to hurry, there is a reason to use the information that is already on the table, and there is a reason to make a decision sooner rather than later. If the Assembly decides not to go ahead, so be it, and be it on the head of members of this Assembly on what we do about unfunded superannuation and other things. But let us make a decision.

Debate (on motion by Mr Berry) adjourned.

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