Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3275 ..
MR HARGREAVES (continuing):
The month of January is notorious in this town for the exodus of people. We have absolutely no news in the paper. If you want to wrap up your vegetables in the Canberra Times, you want to use some plastic around the outside at the same time because it is not thick enough to keep the juices in. There will be very few people in this town to listen to the criticisms that will be levelled at any conclusions which may come out, particularly if the whole thing is rushed. That, I suspect, has a lot to do with the timing of the Government's agenda.
The Government is putting pressure on committee members to consider a very complicated matter. Our major financial liability and our major asset are the two biggest things that this town has to face. There is no sense in rushing. I do not see any sense in rushing. We are not suggesting that this inquiry go on for months and months. Committee members and others who have arranged their holidays will have to rearrange things so that they have time to do things properly. Again, I say there is no sense in rushing. We need until 16 February so that when the committee meets to write up its final report members of the committee who have an open mind on the issue have time to digest the information that has been given to the committee and be convinced on the arguments and not be rushed into making a decision through intense lobbying and incredible pressure.
That sort of pressure and that sort of rush are counterproductive. I do not think that the committee will be allowed to give the very serious and vexed question of superannuation liability the consideration that it needs. I think it is unfair of the Government to expect the people who would provide information to the committee to be available over the Christmas period to compile that information, if indeed the committee requires additional information, and present it to the committee.
The rest of us also need to be convinced. Some of us have the luxury of being able to vote along party lines but that does not mean that we are not interested in the matter. Mr Osborne has the luxury of voting along party lines. He always does. Mr Kaine has no problem with his caucus at all. I am happy to go along with the party line but I need to be able to sleep at night when we are talking about the two most serious issues facing us today. I need time for people like Mr Quinlan and hopefully Mr Kaine, who do know about these things, to explain them to me so that I am comfortable that we have made the right decision. I do not have enough time to consider these things so I would urge very seriously that the Assembly consider that this bringing forward of the date is grossly unfair. It is merely timed to take advantage of the festive season. I think it is just a gigantic con trick. We ought to say no. I urge the Assembly to support Mr Berry's amendment and to reject this gigantic con trick on the part of the Government.
MR OSBORNE (8.25): I cannot see the point in Mr Berry's amendment. What a waste of time the amendment is. I think we either knock Mr Humphries' motion off or we support it. Being a member of the committee, obviously I would like as much time as possible. It is going to be an interesting couple of months. I would like to make a decision sooner rather than later, especially in light of the letter circulated from the chief executive of ACTEW encouraging us to make a decision sooner rather than later, given that this matter has been back on the agenda for eight months now. He writes to the Chief Minister: