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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (2 February) . . Page.. 53 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

selling a share (eg 60%) of Transact and CRANOS at an appropriate time.

Why not 49 per cent or 40 per cent and retain the majority of government ownership. They are all matters of opinion and conjecture. The final two measures would be:

possibly selling the consulting arm of Ecowise Environmental; and

substantially reducing the sponsorship budget.

I do not even know what the sponsorship budget is. Whether we reduce it substantially or completely may make no difference at all. The point I make is that these are only things that need to be very seriously considered - not things that will happen, not things that must happen. The crucial thing I wanted to come to was the penultimate paragraph. It says:

All of the above would require enthusiastic support from the Board and the Management Team. This "may" be problematic ...

It goes on, but I think we ought to stop there. If the chief executive officer, in an opinion expressed to the head of the ACT government service, not to the Chief Minister and not to this place, is even suggesting that he and his senior management team and the members of his board cannot enthusiastically do what they had been hired and are being paid to do, that is, run a public enterprise - and I have told the Chief Minister this face to face - their resignations should be on the Chief Minister's desk now. There is no place in a public enterprise for the people who were employed to run that public enterprise to be saying to the Chief Minister or to the head of the ACT government service or to anybody else, "If you do not change the ownership structure of this place, we will let the thing run down". That is essentially what they are saying. They go on and say that it would become a "narrow, insular and unimaginative organisation". (Further extension of time granted) Mr Speaker, I do not understand what was intended to be conveyed there. However, I am absolutely certain that professional senior officers, public officials, would not be saying things of that kind only to find themselves in the middle of a political debate that is going on. The Chief Minister has something to answer for because she dumped two senior officers, not just one, in the middle of a political debate.

I think that the matters that are raised are a serious concern and they cannot simply pass without comment. They simply cannot be allowed to pass without some action on the part of the Government. The bottom line is that the interests of the staff of ACTEW have to be taken care of. It is not enough for the Government simply to shrug it off and say, "We will let the thing deteriorate and we will make sure the staff go". That is not part of the deal.

The Chief Minister talks about the terrible consequences of public ownership. Where was the management team? Was the manager doing what this management has threatened to do? They simply abdicate from their job. They continue to take the money but not manage the enterprise. Is that why these terrible consequences that the Chief Minister talks about in publicly managed enterprises occur? Is that the basis of it? I am not sure.

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