Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2868 ..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
Whilst I was initially a little bit disappointed by the low figures, when I put them into the context of the 900 who fronted up at the first Masters Games in Hobart and how that event has grown, I think this is a good initiative. The people I have spoken to are thoroughly enjoying it. I thank ACTEW and the bureau for their hard work. I also thank all the volunteers and the various sports that have made the games what to date seems to be quite a significant success, even though the numbers are reasonably low.
MR RUGENDYKE: I ask a supplementary question. Minister, could you advise the Assembly of a breakdown of sponsorships from ACTEW and Sport and Recreation that have been spent on the Active Australia Games?
MR STEFANIAK: I would have to take that question on notice. There are a large number of sponsors, Mr Rugendyke. When I opened the Games on Saturday, I read them all out. I will see what I can get for you on that.
MR HIRD: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister. I refer to an announcement that a New South Wales government-owned power company, Integral Energy, is trying to buy a privately owned Victorian power company called Citipower for $1.6m. Noting that this is the case of a government enterprise trying to expand its business in a competitive market, I ask the Chief Minister whether or not she believes our own ACTEW Corporation should go down the same path.
Mr Corbell: For $1.6m, yes, I reckon it is a good idea.
MS CARNELL: I do not think those opposite should comment on people who get billions and millions mixed up. Mr Speaker, I thank Mr Hird for the question. This issue was raised in the Assembly by Mr Quinlan in an attempt to suggest that ACTEW should be doing the same thing as at least one other publicly owned corporation, Integral Energy in New South Wales. In fact, a number of those opposite have suggested that we do not have to sell ACTEW; that what ACTEW should do is grow; that it should borrow money, and get out into the market.
Mr Speaker, Integral Energy has decided to bid for Citipower in Victoria, and the reported asking price is a mere $1.6 billion. If ever this Assembly needed an example of the financial risks that taxpayers could be exposed to in a national electricity market, then members need look no further than this deal. Here we have a government-owned operation in New South Wales with about 750,000 clients, roughly five times the size of ACTEW, freely admitting that the only way that it can remain viable is to expand. Those opposite have made similar comments.
How is it going to achieve that expansion? By borrowing a hell of a lot of money. I am not privy to exactly how much money would need to be borrowed, but I would be very surprised if it was much less than $1 billion. Mr Speaker, that is a lot of money.