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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3270 ..

MR BERRY (7.59): I did not want to do it right now, but I will come to that in a minute. Mr Speaker, I think the first thing that needs to be acknowledged here - and everybody basically understands this - is that the Government will leave no stone unturned to have its way. They will behave like spoilt brats if they cannot have their way. This is just another example of that. I note Mr Moore's interjections, which suggest that he is rusted onto the agenda of the Right when it comes to economic matters. He seems very comfortable with that. I would not be if I were Mr Moore.

Mr Speaker, noting that the Government has adopted this position that they are going to try to use every tactic to delay or interfere with the will of the Assembly, I think it is important to go to another issue. Let us forget the Government for a minute. We know what their game is. Let us go to the position of consistency. Labor understood the position of the crossbenchers, particularly Mr Osborne and Mr Rugendyke, to be that they would support the establishment of a committee which would report on 16 February. That was the date which Mr Osborne and Mr Rugendyke had agreed to. That was the agreement reached with the Labor Party. I want them to be consistent with the agreement they reached with the Labor Party - 16 February.

Our preferred position was to have a reporting date sometime in March, because we believed that it would take that sort of time. We do not regard this matter lightly. It is an important issue for the future of the Territory and it needs to be inquired into with accuracy and some depth. Mr Quinlan, in accepting the chair of the committee to deal with this matter, has taken on a fairly grave responsibility, because our largest asset is the subject of attempts by some economic rationalists to sell it. If Mr Quinlan's committee is to have a fair go, they ought to have the time that was agreed to, until 16 February. It is only a couple of weeks more.

There is no excuse for our colleagues on the crossbenches to change their minds away from the position which was agreed to with us in relation to the committee's reporting date in the first place. It was not anticipated in the motion because it did not need to be. The sitting pattern was set down and the first sitting day in 1999 was 16 February. We agreed with Mr Osborne, Mr Rugendyke and others that an appropriate date for the report to be presented was 16 February.

It is well understood that the Government will do everything they can to drag this process out to try to get a point out of it somewhere when they are on the backfoot. They would try anything. This is merely another example of the gyrations that you can expect from a government which is in a bit of trouble on this issue. Today a timely report shattered some of the imagery that the Government has attempted to create. That of course would cause some panic amongst their ranks and those who think they might profit by this sale in some way.

For our part, we have a broader and deeper social interest in ACTEW. We do not just concern ourselves with the dollars. We concern ourselves with broader and more important things. That is why, in the first place, we took the view that we needed some time to consider it. We thought that until about the beginning of March was the minimum that we could profitably use to adequately examine the matters of great importance which are guiding those who are considering voting one way or another in relation to the sale of ACTEW.

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