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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3211 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

The Canberra Business Council endorses the proposed sale of ACTEW on the basis that it is sensible financial management to maximise the value of this declining asset for the future of the Territory. The Council believes this sale should occur as soon as reasonably possible.

The Canberra Business Council represents over 250 businesses and major business organisations in Canberra. These organisations would not be prepared to issue such strong statements in favour of the sale if they did not believe they had the support of their membership.

While I am on the subject of the Yellow Pages Small Business Index, the Assembly may be interested to hear about some of the other figures in the same report. Confidence about the year ahead amongst Australian Capital Territory small business proprietors has reached its highest level for three years. This positive result is second only to that in South Australia. For the August to October quarter a net 41 per cent of small business operators reported sales growth, compared to a net 28 per cent in the August index.

Mr Berry: Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. Answers must be confined to the subject matter.

MR SPEAKER: I uphold the point of order. Mr Corbell was asking a specific question, Chief Minister.

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, that is certainly true but Mr Corbell was suggesting that this report was a credible document and something that he believed should be touted around in the Assembly. I was suggesting that if it is a credible document then the fact that 41 per cent of small business operators reported sales growth compared with the 28 per cent in the - - -

Mr Corbell: I raise a point of order.

MR SPEAKER: Do you have a supplementary question, Mr Corbell?

MR CORBELL: Yes, I do, thank you, Mr Speaker. How can the Chief Minister remain confident that her Government's plan to privatise ACTEW does have the support of Canberra small businesses, in light of these recent findings by this major national survey? I should highlight the fact that the Chief Minister herself issued a press release on this survey when the August figures came out. Recognising that the support small business had for her Government's policies on small business, how can she say the report is not credible when she herself uses it to proclaim her own Government's alleged successes in small business activity? Will she withdraw public statements she made in October on this issue now that the results show that among Canberra small business opposition to privatisation is even stronger than opposition in the rest of the country and that the national average is 55 per cent opposed, compared to 68 per cent in the ACT?

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