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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (2 February) . . Page.. 58 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

Where would this leave ACTEW? It would be possibly forced out of retail business and, without the capital to grow and innovate, ACTEW would become little more than a toll collector. It would be a sad future, I think, for one of Canberra's largest and most exciting companies. Mr Speaker, that outcome is not the Government's preferred future for ACTEW, but that is the future that is being imposed by a no vote against this sale. On the other hand, a vote for the transfer Bill would offer a different future. It would enable ACTEW to become part of a larger, more diverse and competitive organisation with the potential for a wider customer base and access to a greater investment future. It would also offer the best prospect of maintaining employment levels in the ACT. Perhaps valuation is the issue in this debate. If valuation is the issue, why not adjourn it and go to the market and see. If the Labor Party is serious, let us put it to the market and have the market decide the valuation. I am not aware that the Australia Institute ever did a valuation of ACTEW for retention or sale. Has the Australia Institute ever valued a business for sale? I think not. Why do we not get a third valuation from an organisation that has been involved in the sale of a business worth something like $1 billion or more? Why not adjourn it and get that valuation and see what happens then? I do not think we will. I do not think we will hear that from the Labor Party.

Mr Speaker, members have had plenty of time and information to make their decisions today, so I can only assume that they all know what they are doing and are prepared to bear the consequences. (Further extension of time granted) It is worth reading the last paragraph of the Canberra Times editorial this morning:

With the sale of ACTEW now almost certainly doomed, Mrs Carnell won't be much mollified by the thought that, several years from now, once full contestability has arrived, she will have the bitter pleasure of intoning "I told you so". How many Canberrans, on that future day, when they have the choice of sticking with ACTEW or selecting an alternative, possibly cheaper, provider, will recall how fiercely they once insisted that "our" electricity company remain ours.

MR CORBELL (4.17): If the Government is relying on quotes from the Canberra Times, they have got pretty slim pickings. After you read the Letters to the Editor page, Mr Speaker, you get a pretty clear view of the view of the people of Canberra.

Mr Speaker, the decision this Assembly takes today will have a profound and far-reaching impact on this Territory for many years to come. There is no doubt about that from this side of the chamber or the other. However, the judgment that we as members must make today is whether to accept the view that the role of government is a shrinking one, that the financial bottom line is the only narrow consideration we must have in mind when we vote on the sale of ACTEW, and that there is only one way to run an economy and address the issues that the Territory faces, as the Government would like to have us believe.

Mr Speaker, when I was first elected to this place, I argued in my first speech that I did not accept that there was only one way to govern a Territory such as Canberra. I argued that it was, effectively, wrong to suggest that there was only one way to view and respond to the issues of competition and economic rationalism. I argued instead that

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