Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 3033 ..
MR SPEAKER (Mr Cornwell) took the chair and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.
MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (10.32): Mr Speaker, I present the ACTEW (Transfer Scheme) Bill 1998, together with its explanatory memorandum.
Title read by Clerk.
MS CARNELL: I move:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
Mr Speaker, as members are aware, I announced earlier this year that the Government would be seeking the agreement of the Legislative Assembly to the combined sale and concession of ACTEW Corporation in the December sittings. To ensure that the sale and concession arrangements are undertaken properly and that the community's interests are protected, I am today introducing the ACTEW (Transfer Scheme) Bill. This Bill will facilitate the proposed sale and will also allow the Government to enter into contracts for the operation, maintenance and management of the water resource, the dams and water and the sewerage treatment plants.
As members of the Assembly will recall, I announced the Government's intentions after receiving the "Scoping Study of ACTEW Corporation" by the consultants ABN AMRO and DGJ Projects. At that time I said that there were two major challenges facing the ACT - ACTEW, its largest asset, was losing value every day and the Government had a growing unfunded superannuation liability. Mr Speaker, nothing has changed since then. The Government has decided to meet these challenges head-on rather than sit on its hands and do nothing. I have yet to hear from anyone, including the Opposition, of an alternative method of successfully dealing with these two issues.
Before I turn to the provisions of the Bill, I want to foreshadow that I will be giving notice of a motion in the Assembly to seek the Assembly's general agreement to the proposed sale and concession. This will enable the Government to pursue the sale of ACTEW Corporation, its subsidiaries and major undertakings with the exception of the dams and water and sewerage treatment plants which will remain in public ownership.