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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3258 ..

Mr Corbell: There were 10,600 signatures.


Mr Corbell: There were 10,600.

MR HARGREAVES: Bucket loads of people everywhere I go in my electorate say to me, "What can we do to stop it?". I keep telling them, "I don't know; it's up to you". Mr Speaker, one of my concerns about all this stuff here is that we have an emerging liability, the superannuation one, but it is not the only emerging liability we have. There is a whole bucket load of them as well. What we are doing by selling ACTEW is drying up a revenue stream which will take care of those. Ultimately, at the end of the day, the liability will be satisfied. We will have more public servants to pay for this superannuation and all that sort of stuff. We will not have a revenue stream other than taxing our citizens to pay for it.

Mr Osborne: Two minutes to go.

MR HARGREAVES: Thanks very much. That cost you 30 seconds. Mr Speaker, there is one thing I have noticed in reading these books. I must say it is pretty difficult when we get both of these reports on the day we are asked to make a decision. I am grateful for the leaping ability of Mr Osborne in the very near future. I am grateful for what he is going to do because I have to say it is too complicated for me to do it. It is far too complicated for me to vote on this now. A very famous man, one of my heroes, once said about the old GST, "If you don't understand it, don't vote for it".

Mr Speaker, one of the things that have not been mentioned concerning the sale of ACTEW is whether it can compete with the private sector or not. At page x of the Australia Institute report it says:

The efficiency of an enterprise is determined by the management and operating environment, not by its ownership.

Well, Mr Speaker, if this utility is not able to compete in the private sector environment, whose fault is that? It is the fault of the people to whom it is responsible. It is the fault of the two shareholders, and the ACT Government in particular. They are not allowing it the opportunity to trade out of what is their imposed difficulty. We need to consider that.

Mr Speaker, I think this decision needs to be delayed while the principal tenet upon which the sale is based is looked into. One thing that Mr Rugendyke and I both share is information overload at this point. It is beyond my capabilities to digest the rather timely Auditor-General's report. It was just squeezed in before we had to vote. I congratulate the Chief Minister's speech writers on being able to write up the notes just so that this could be considered before we vote on it. I think that was excellent work. I wish my speech writers were able to do things that quickly.

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