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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (2 February) . . Page.. 30 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

to address that debt today. It is today's debt; it is not the debt of the future. It is debt that has been accrued since 1989. It is the debt of the ACT Public Service and it is the debt for which this place is responsible.

Full funding is the least risky way, the most flexible way and the fairest way to fund that superannuation. But, Mr Speaker, we are going to ignore all that; we are just going to live in the land of optimism. We are going to double- and triple-spend money that we do not have, we are probably not going to pay interest on ACTEW's debt and we are going to pick up a tax windfall of $9m. Mr Speaker, in both places where I have served as an MP - in the Federal Parliament and here - I have always had the greatest respect for the committee system. What we need to have answered now is the reason for not only the lack of intelligent information and analysis in this report but also the total disregard of the committee for what it was asked to do and the way in which it should be done. Mr Speaker, some accusations will fly backwards and forwards this afternoon, but I am sure that when you inquire into what Mr Hird puts you will find that this is probably a report that should never have come to this Assembly, firstly, because it does not answer the question and, secondly, because it was not done in a proper manner.

MR RUGENDYKE (12.24): Mr Speaker, I will be brief. I recognise that the unfunded superannuation debt is a problem for the Territory and a concern for every Canberran. We all know that it is a problem that cannot be ignored and that measures need to be implemented to fill the hole. The Government came up with its own measure; that is, to sell ACTEW. The Government did say that there was no alternative and they were insistent that we vote for that option back in December.

You might recall that in December the inquiry into superannuation was instigated, against the Government's wishes; it was vehemently opposed. I supported the inquiry because I did want to see whether there were alternatives to the Government's proposal. The Government did not want to listen, but I did. I know that my electorate wanted to know whether there was an alternative. This inquiry was a means of seeing whether this was the case.

The Government told us that the only option to meet the unfunded superannuation problem was to sell ACTEW, sell it now, sell it quickly; but I do know that the community would much prefer to retain ACTEW, as they feel passionate about ownership of their largest asset. If that is what the community desires, the Assembly has a duty to explore that option fully. The superannuation inquiry has demonstrated that selling ACTEW may not be the only solution. It is up to the Government to analyse the report of the superannuation committee and address the superannuation debt whilst keeping ACTEW in public hands, as this appears to be the will of the majority of members of this Assembly.

Sitting suspended from 12.27 to 2.30 pm

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