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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (2 February) . . Page.. 15 ..

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer)(11.25): This committee's report has all the hallmarks of a fairytale. Reality very rarely - I would have to say never - intrudes, and we can all live happily ever after in this wonderful new land, the land of optimism. By the way, while we are all there in never-never land with this optimistic new approach to budgeting, the Government will come up with a new strategy to fix the problem. The committee, and maybe the rest of the Assembly, are having such a jolly good time coming up with optimistic approaches to the budget that we really do not have to worry anymore at all. Of course, ACTEW, our wonderful organisation, will continue to be profitable. Competition will not in any way upset it. The pricing commissioner will not in any way impact on ACTEW, and everybody can be happy.

Mr Speaker, this is a profoundly disappointing report. In two months the committee have not been able to overcome any of their preconceived prejudices. It is surprising. Given Mr Quinlan's qualifications, I would have thought he would have come up with a report that was worth the paper it was written on. This one is not. More disappointing still was the shabby treatment handed out to one member of the committee who tried to correct the glaring errors that exist in this report. For his trouble, Mr Hird was subjected to a tirade of abuse in language that he said was uncivilised and uncalled for. I am confident that members of this Assembly would not believe that that was acceptable under any circumstances. To his credit, Mr Hird stuck to his principles and lodged his dissent, highlighting some of the remarkable errors in the analysis contained in the majority committee report. Mr Speaker, I commend Mr Hird's dissenting report to members.

In reflecting on the superannuation committee's fairytale while I was sitting at my desk last night, I thought to myself, "What can I say about the report that is constructive?". I had something of a revelation about myself and the future of the ACT. I thank members of the committee for that revelation. I have been accused of many things, but being a pessimist has never been one of them, until this committee report. I have to thank Mr Quinlan for pointing out this very important fact. I think optimism is important. For pointing out that I am essentially a pessimist, and that I should turn myself into an optimist, I thank Mr Quinlan very much.

I see now that my pessimism has let me worry about all sorts of unnecessary things. Take the massive costs facing the next generation of Canberrans from our superannuation commitments. If I had just been more optimistic, I would not have even worried about them. It is also clear that my pessimism has led me to conclude that taxpayers will be exposed to significant risks through continuing ownership of ACTEW. If only I had read the report earlier and known that, if only I had been optimistic, I would not have had to worry. But, Mr Speaker, I woke up this morning and the sun was shining, and a new optimistic me is here in front of you today. Optimism rules. The "big O" will fix all of our problems. According to those in this committee, it will fix all of our problems. Being an optimistic person, I am trying very hard to grasp this view.

To be fair, I think that I should not just thank members of the committee. I should also thank the Australia Institute. Like John the Baptist, they were there crying in the wilderness, heralding this new life-changing approach to economics and budgeting. Mr Speaker, it was from the Australia Institute that I first should have realised where my problems lay. All you have to do is assume away the greatest part of the Territory's

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