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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 2793 ..

ACTEW - Sale

MR HIRD: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister, Mrs Carnell. I refer to the now famous pamphlet, which I see over there on Mr Berry's desk, distributed to thousands of Canberra households by Mr Berry - look at them, handfuls of them - and the ACT Labor Party, which is headed: "ACTEW is ours. Don't sell it". In that brochure it states:

According to the government documents;

. Over the last 5 years ACTEW has made payments to the ACT Government of over $450 million.

. In the Next 4 years ACTEW is projected to make payments to the ACT Government and profits totalling around $500 million.

Chief Minister, given that Mr Berry states that the source of this information is supposedly "government documents", can you, as head of the Government, advise whether these statements are, in fact, true and whether the brochure is, in fact, accurate?

MR SPEAKER: Chief Minister, hopefully without the theatricals.

MS CARNELL: I am very happy to answer without the theatricals, Mr Speaker. Last month Mr Berry began distributing a brochure to Canberra households, which he was obviously very proud of, which urged people to contact Mr Osborne and Mr Rugendyke about the sale of ACTEW. I think they were also using this brochure to encourage people to sign a petition. In this document, Mr Berry and the Labor Party - and obviously Mr Quinlan as well, because he now seems to be involved - made a number of quite specific claims. The first of these was that over the last five years ACTEW had made payments to the Territory of over $450m. The second was that over the next four years ACTEW was projected to make payments totalling about half a billion dollars. In other words, Mr Speaker, $950m would have been flowing from ACTEW to the ACT Government over a nine-year period.

You can understand, Mr Speaker, that when people read that they would say, "Why would the Government want to sell it for $1 billion? We had better get in touch with Mr Osborne and Mr Rugendyke. We had better sign this petition, because those figures seem really high". Well, Mr Speaker, what do we find? The figures are wrong. This morning we heard Mr Quinlan admit that they were wrong.

But in this document Mr Berry states that the figures were sourced from government documents - not his documents, not Mr Quinlan's spreadsheets, but government documents. On this basis, as the Government, we decided that we needed to have a bit of a closer look at these figures, as they were supposed to be ours, Mr Speaker. We found that over the last five years ACTEW actually returned only $285m and it is forecast to make payments to the Government over the next four years of $215m. That makes a total of $500m over nine years and it leaves Mr Berry $450m short of the mark.

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