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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (2 February) . . Page.. 54 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

Mr Speaker, in conclusion, I acknowledge the Chief Minister's concerns about the way this debate is going, because it leaves her in a difficult situation. She has pinned all of her hopes on flogging off ACTEW to fix the other major problem that she has, which is a budgetary one. But I have to say, Mr Speaker, that the job of a Treasurer is not to deal with the world as he or she would like it to be. Her job is to deal with the world as it really is. If it is the decision of this place that ACTEW will not be sold, then the Treasurer's job is to deal with the real world, not some fanciful world. I hear those opposite bandying around words such as "never-never", "fantasy world" and the like.

The fact is that the Chief Minister and Treasurer has to face up to the real world. That is why the members of this Government are paid a good deal of money to bring their skills and their energies to bear on these issues. It is not good enough to challenge the Opposition and the members of the crossbenches to come up with solutions. That is what members of the Government are paid for. That is what they are elected for. That is why they love the position of office. It gives them a certain status, but it also carries some responsibility. I submit that the Chief Minister, after the vote is taken today, has to stand up and be counted as a real Treasurer and not a cardboard cut-out of one.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (4.00): Mr Kaine's most important statement was in his last paragraph when he said, "It is about time that we all lived in the real world". What many in this place fail to acknowledge is that in the last 12 months, with the advent of the national electricity market, the real world has changed, yet there are those in this place who would like to live in a century of gentler times when decisions did not have to be made or could be made in a much easier manner without any regard to the future. The future for Australia is rapidly changing. In this day and age change occurs in a much shorter length of time. That is what we are confronted with in considering the position of ACTEW.

Over the past month, the Assembly has had an opportunity to investigate in detail the reasons behind the Government's decision to seek the sale of the ACTEW Corporation. I do not believe that any member of this place can honestly claim not to be fully aware of the implications of a vote against the sale. Yet it still seems that there remain members that are wary of taking unpopular decisions in the long-term best interests of the Territory or just have ideological blinkers that prevent them from facing the facts. Unfortunately, doing something popular does not always mean that you are doing the right thing. Despite all the complicated arguments that have been presented, it is really very simple: ACTEW is no longer sustainable in its current form.

Mr Stanhope gave us a wonderful speech but, for all the words that were in Mr Stanhope's speech, we still do not know how Labor would fund the superannuation liability, the ACT's debt or the operating deficit that we have. Mr Stanhope said that Labor stood for many things. That might be true. What it does not stand for is creating a Canberra that is socially sustainable, environmentally sustainable or economically sustainable, because Labor is willing to put at risk the largest asset that the ACT has. Labor is incapable of offering any solutions. Mr Stanhope raises the previous election. He talks about what was said in the lead-up to the election. The Chief Minister made it very clear that we had reports coming and that what we would do is protect the value of the asset that is ACTEW.

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