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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (16 February) . . Page.. 107 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

community as a whole were the key tests in examining these arrangements ... [and] the report provides substantial detail on the weighing-up of the costs and benefits (the public benefit test)".

That is what the report claims. The Competition Policy Forum found:

In fact, the Review neither provides detail on the costs and benefits nor weighs them up. There is no application of the public benefit test to the changes proposed.

Changes proposed by this Government to the Milk Authority in the ACT. That is the finding of the Competition Policy Forum - that in this legislation, in this Government's attitude to the Milk Authority in the ACT, the Competition Policy Forum of the ACT, the body which this Assembly charged with responsibility for advising it on competition policy issues, finds there is no application of the public benefit test to the proposed changes. Mr Acworth concludes:

This is the most serious failing of the Review.

To the extent that this Government has simply blindly decided to crash through these amendments to the Milk Authority without responding to that report, without doing Mr Acworth and those members of the Competition Policy Forum the courtesy of responding to their damning indictment of the report and of the Government's later acceptance of it, it is an indictment of this Government and the way that it does business. It also is an insult to this Assembly, in my view, that it is prepared to treat the application of competition policy principles in this cavalier way. It is cavalier. It is without process and it is without principle. To that extent this legislation will always suffer, and this Government's application of these principles to this industry will always be affected by the way in which it proceeded with this so-called reform.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (11.19), in reply: Mr Speaker, I thank the Assembly for this opportunity to debate this Bill a second time. I thank them for the opportunity because, yet again, we have from the Labor Party a display of arrogance over this whole issue. During the Christmas break, Mr Stanhope took the opportunity to go in and attempt to clean up after all of Mr Hargreaves' mistakes by saying that the real reason the Labor Party had rejected this legislation at the last sitting day was that we tried to rush it through - that they did not have time to consider it; perhaps they did not understand it. I think the record will show that there were briefings, there was consideration and there was public consultation; that it was out there to be discussed and the reason that it ended up on the last sitting day was that, in fact, the Assembly had moved it to that last day.

It is curious that Mr Stanhope, during the Christmas break, would accuse us seemingly of being arrogant by not allowing proper discussion of this issue. As soon as the Bill was rejected last December I was out there saying that the Government would reintroduce this Bill and we believed that it was the right thing to do. For some two months, I have been saying, on behalf of the Government, that we would reintroduce the Bill. You would think Labor would then have had time to discuss it and would also, hopefully, have had time to put their amendments on the table, and yet at 10.37 am, not even an hour ago, I -

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