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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 3365 ..

Mr Stanhope: Take me outside and explain it to me, too.

MS CARNELL: I am happy to take you outside, too.

Mr Berry: Don't go without a witness.

MS CARNELL: I will take you outside together, if you would like.

MR SPEAKER: There will be nobody left in here soon if we keep this up.

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, this $1 billion hole is the extent of the superannuation liability that will accrue over the next 10 to 15 years. Yet all the Australia Institute could say on this subject was that what we needed to do was to fully fund these liabilities in the future. In other words, what we should do from now, from this moment on, is fully fund the accruing liabilities. Mr Speaker, I have to say that $100m a year is a large amount of money.

Mr Speaker, one other glaring mistake in the report is the claim that the Government can set ACTEW's dividends at any level that it chooses. If you want proof of just how out of touch the report is you need only to look at that comment. The Government can take dividends from ACTEW only to the extent that ACTEW makes a profit. That is the law. You cannot take more than the profit in dividend.

Mr Quinlan: It is mainly a monopoly.

MS CARNELL: It is illegal. Mr Quinlan must know that, although it appears from his interjection that he does not know that. So, when you see stupid statements like, "If the Government so desires, it could require dividends of $183m every year", you realise how misleading this document is. The Government did not take $183m as a dividend last year, as claimed by the Australia Institute. Mr Speaker, what we did do was repatriate $100m of capital, and we had to go to court to get an order to do so. It simply cannot be just taken out, Mr Speaker.

Let us assume for a moment that the Government did take $183m out of ACTEW every year, as suggested by the Australia Institute. If we did that, I could guarantee that ACTEW would cease to exist in a very short period of time. Mr Speaker, the only person who would own ACTEW then would be the bank that lent ACTEW all of the - - -

Mr Stanhope: Which bank?

MS CARNELL: Which bank? The bank that would lend ACTEW the money to repatriate back to the Government. Mr Speaker, this is simply ridiculous. These are just two of the problems that the report has identified, a report which, according to the ACT Trades and Labour Council and the Australia Institute, was independently refereed.

Mr Speaker, that was said again by Mr Stanhope in this place yesterday. I want the members of the Assembly to listen carefully to what I say next. The Australia Institute, which is a left-wing think tank, is also a not-for-profit company set up in the ACT.

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