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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (2 February) . . Page.. 59 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

stronger emphasis should be placed on the role of the citizen and not just the consumer, that a stronger emphasis should be placed by decision-makers like us on the principal defence of the public interest and the common good and not solely on our individual material worth and how much we can afford to buy or sell in the wider marketplace.

Mr Speaker, that, I believe, is the central contest between those members opposed to the sale of ACTEW and those supporting the sale. When it is all said and done, the choice we make today is between accepting a narrow, unimaginative and selfish view of the world based on whether or not we as consumers will benefit from selling ACTEW and a wider view which says that the role of a publicly owned asset such as ACTEW is to provide a service, an essential service, to everyone equally regardless of their worth as consumers. The Government views ACTEW as an asset with only a dollar value. If that is all it is, then they probably have a good reason to sell it; but that is not all it is.

ACTEW is the provider of an essential service. It is the manager of valuable built and natural assets and it performs all these functions for us, for all of us. The majority of its operations are monopoly operations; no-one else does them. So, it is no surprise to me as an elected representative, and it is no surprise to us as members of the Labor Party, when a majority of the Canberra community say that they are opposed to the sale of ACTEW. It is not a surprise when over 10,000 people sign a petition opposing the sale, when hundreds of people attend a rally, or go to shopping centre stalls and complain against the sale. It is no surprise to me when still hundreds more express their views directly to members of this place and through the media, saying, "Don't sell it". Above all, what these people are saying is: "Stop this".

ACTEW is an asset with more than a monetary value. The role it performs is so crucial to the continuing functioning of our community that we should have control over how it operates and what it does. Clearly, the people of Canberra have been attempting to voice this view to us during the debate. In doing so, Mr Deputy Speaker, they have sent another even more important message; that is, they have asked us to understand that they do not accept the Government's view that there is only one way, Kate Carnell's way, to address the Territory's economic problems, that there is only one way to run an economy or manage our city.

It suits the Government's purposes to put that view, to say, "This is the only way to do it. If you do not agree with us, you are wrong and you are fools". Clearly, the community knows better than that and the community wants more than that. They want alternatives that protect their interests, the public interest, the common good. They also want alternatives that address the issues we face with the Territory's budget. That is why it is not those members opposing the sale here today who are gutless, as the Chief Minister has so crudely said. Instead, it is those on the government benches who are gutless, who believe theirs is the only way - the only way to respond to competition policy, the only way to address the issues of the Territory's superannuation liability. Their solution is simplistic, narrow and selfish: Sell, sell it now, sell it quickly, no debate, no discussion.

Mr Deputy Speaker, those who have taken the harder challenge are those members who have decided today that the view put by the Government could be wrong. Those of us who have taken the harder challenge are those members who have said, "Let's question that approach. Let's test it, see if it stacks up, see if it achieves the outcomes that our

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