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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (2 February) . . Page.. 17 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

a competitive electricity market. ACTEW can make money in the future, as Mr Quinlan says, reading meters. The fact that they contract that out now has nothing to do with it. There will be all of these new meters to read. We will not worry too much about the fact that there are no new houses. ACTEW will be able to live on the basis of front-end services. (Extension of time granted) ACTEW will be able to operate and grow on the basis of the services they currently provide. Mr Speaker, how do you grow on the basis of the services you currently provide? But let us be fair. It is magic. In never-never land anything is possible as long as you are optimistic.

If we go down the path of this optimistic approach, ACTEW will be able to get out there in the market and invest millions of dollars of taxpayers' money and acquire new distribution and generation companies. They will be able to grow. With this optimistic approach, there will never ever be any risk, because she'll be right, mate. Members may think this is a glib approach to this report but no, it is not. This committee has recommended that we could take up to $500m out of ACTEW and not affect the company at all. This is an amazing approach. It is wonderful. It is so optimistic. Not only can we take up to $500m out of ACTEW, but as well we can take the dividend, because even though we have taken $500m we have not affected the dividend at all. We can take the dividend out and fund our unfunded superannuation problem. Although we have taken the dividend out of the budget, we can be really optimistic and assume that it will not affect our budget at all. The $45m that comes out and plugs into superannuation in this optimistic world will not affect the budget. I love this optimistic approach to budgeting. It will not be a problem to bring down a budget from now on, because all we have to do is be optimistic. All we have to do is take the optimistic approach. Let us not worry about the fact that the Auditor-General and the Actuary will not agree with us. We are optimistic.

I thank Mr Quinlan for making it clear to me that we should no longer be cautious or prudent in our approach to budgeting. I know that from this moment on he will never ever suggest that the Government has taken too optimistic an approach to budget projections, as he did last time. From here on we are at the optimistic end of the spectrum. None of us, from this moment on, will ever flinch again at the risk of issues such as ACTEW retailing, because we will be optimistic. That is what this committee report says. Of course, if this all proves to be a fairytale, then someone else will have to pay the price of our stupidity.

MR KAINE (11.39): I must say that I enjoyed the Chief Minister's speech. It was quite condescending but, as a little bit of drama, it was quite enjoyable. However, it added nothing to the debate that we are supposed to be engaged in. Of course, the cheerleader team over there said, "Hear, hear!" every time she said something. In fact, she said very little. The Chief Minister said, "Somebody has come along and disagreed with me. If somebody disagrees with me, I am going to spit the dummy". I can only say that her public comments in the last 24 hours about the tough budget and the loss of jobs we are going to incur if the Assembly has the effrontery to oppose her later this morning on the sale of ACTEW are an indication of just where she really sits on this position.

The Chief Minister seems to have forgotten that for four years she has been the Chief Minister and Treasurer. Every year that she has brought down a budget in each of those years she has said how tough the decision-making has been, how tough it has

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