Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 9 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 2693 ..
MS CARNELL (continuing):
A lot of work is being done right now looking at the sorts of things operators under similar water franchising arrangements offshore, particularly in Europe, have had to address over time, to make sure that when we put the statement of regulatory intent on the table next week, leading to full-scale legislation next year, we get it right so that the people of Canberra can be sure of water quality, access to water, environmental issues and so on. I think it is absolutely essential that those things be in place. We are looking at overseas models to make sure that ours is state of the art.
MR RUGENDYKE: I am not sure whether it was a yes or a no answer but my supplementary question applies to both. Why has 50 years been chosen for the lease contract period when most water utilities appear to favour a period of 15 to 20 years?
MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I understand that 50 years was chosen to give the successful tenderer confidence in the market and to maximise return to the ACT Government. The shorter the period of time, obviously the less that we will get. It is about balancing the issues - length of time, return to government and confidence that we can maintain the asset in the marketplace by making sure that any proposed manager of the system keeps up the maintenance. All of those sorts of things need to be built into the whole equation. Again, Mr Rugendyke, that was the recommendation of ABN AMRO and those people. I understand that that was the balance they took into account.
MR CORBELL: My question is also to the Chief Minister. Is the Chief Minister aware that the New South Wales regulatory framework for electricity and water is currently under review and that this review is not likely to report until after this Assembly is asked to support the sale of ACTEW on the basis of what ABN AMRO itself has identified as a similar regulatory framework? Will the Chief Minister acknowledge that it is foolish to base an ACT regulatory framework on the New South Wales system before the effectiveness of that system is tested or reviewed? Will the Chief Minister admit that serious concerns raised in the course of the New South Wales review of their regulatory framework will have implications for any decision by this Assembly to support the sale and franchise of ACTEW?
MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I can tell Mr Corbell that the extensive work that is being done on the ACT regulatory framework is not in any way looking at mirroring New South Wales. We do not believe that New South Wales is good enough, and I think that has been shown. But of course anything that comes out of the New South Wales report that we believe is better than what we have on the table we can adopt. There are no problems with that at all. The approach that we have taken is unique. It really is significantly more - - -
Mr Corbell: You are making it all up, are you?