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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 2784 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

to have to fire them. So there is a range of issues like that. Also, when I was told that there would be difficulties there, I requested the department to write to the private hospitals to ask whether they would be prepared to take some of the patients from our public waiting lists.

Mr Speaker, I think there is a huge challenge here. I have not suggested that I have all the answers. I am going to do my best. We have a series of proposals. We will make sure that the Health and Community Care Committee is aware of exactly what we are trying to do. Also, of course, it is possible for us to say, "What we will do with that CUT money is treat it as though it is permanent money, spread it over three years, get you to employ the extra people, and so on".

That would reduce the waiting lists and, I must say, politically, it would look terrific at the end of the three years. But it would do nothing to deal with the long-term systemic problems. I want to make sure that we use at least a significant proportion of that money to deal with the long-term systemic problems rather than take the politically convenient way of just getting a short-term solution, saying, "Ha, ha! Look, I have done well", this particular time. It is important for us to work together to make sure that we get the best possible outcome in this area.

ACTEW - Privatisation

MR QUINLAN: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, does the Government have an estimate of the setting up costs that the purchaser of ACTEW might bear for putting together the financial package for $1 billion? Will these costs not become a factor in utility prices beyond privatisation?

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, the costs of a buyer of ACTEW, obviously, are a matter for the buyer of ACTEW. We believe very strongly that buyers of ACTEW will more than likely be existing utility operators in Australia, that will obviously have some level of infrastructure. But, of course, one of the things that we will be requiring will be for some of that infrastructure to be here in the ACT, to ensure ACT-based jobs. Mr Quinlan is very well aware that the price path for both electricity and water will continue to be handled by IPARC, and the basis of that price path is very clear on what can and cannot be added to the price path for the future.

MR QUINLAN: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Could the Chief Minister give us the estimate of the costs of the consulting support to the ACT Government for any proposed privatisation? I may have missed it, but has that contract been let yet?

MS CARNELL: That is a supplementary question, I take it. Mr Speaker, that contract has not been let. It certainly has been advertised at this stage. So, Mr Speaker, I certainly cannot make a comment at this stage on what the final whole price will be to the ACT Government. Of course, that contract was not just for the sale of ACTEW, but

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