Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3251 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
If the Government has not understood it yet, I will say it again. They have not done the work. They have not shown the Assembly or the community that the sale of ACTEW is in the long-term interest of the ACT, taking into account these broader issues. That is why, as I said, I did propose a committee that would be looking at the social, environmental and economic impacts of the sale, issues not covered adequately by the couple of consultants' reports produced for the Government.
We get statements from the Government that we need not worry because a regulatory framework is all that is necessary; that who owns ACTEW is irrelevant. That is a controversial statement and it needs supporting arguments which have never been given. In fact, David Hughes made that comment, even when looking at the Government's reports. We do have serious concerns about the broader public interest questions, such as the impact of a sale on consumer protection, service standards, environmental protection, safety standards, infrastructure, maintenance and overall net benefit to the community. These issues were poorly dealt with in the consultants' reports and are not dealt with in the Auditor-General's report, obviously.
Mr Humphries claims it is inappropriate to call on them to prove that it is a suitable option. Well, I do not think we are even asking for proof necessarily, but we would like to see some information. We would like to have seen the Government support attempts by this Assembly to have a committee inquiry so that members could be informed. We would have liked that; not proof, just an opportunity to hear different points of view.
We have had a report today, released by the Australia Institute, which has been treated with the usual sort of shoot the messenger response from the Government. I do not recall that the reports that the Government produced were totally fault free. I have heard an explanation for the issue that Mrs Carnell raised, but I will not get into that now because this piece of legislation is actually about ACTEW, and, believe it or not, some of us care enough about ACTEW to want to talk about that in debate. As I said, we even thought it might be worth having a committee inquiry, but we were not fortunate enough to have support to do that.
I am also concerned by the processes in this Assembly because I have seen political shenanigans going on that really, as far as I am concerned, are solely addressed at the outcome that the Government wants, which is to sell ACTEW. It is not taking into account good parliamentary process at all. I have heard today about an attempt to have a special day of sitting apparently so that we can deal with this Bill once again before the committee on superannuation has reported. That is another example of how the Government seems to hold this Assembly and the will of the members of this Assembly in contempt.
Everyone in this place knows well and truly that Mr Osborne is going to make his decision on selling ACTEW dependent on the result of the committee into the superannuation liability. He has made that quite clear in this place. I do not know how the Government dare say, "No, we are so sure we are right. If we can we will overrule this committee of the Assembly and its report being allowed to be made before people in this place are asked to make a decision". I sincerely hope that Mr Osborne and