Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (2 February) . . Page.. 76 ..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
ACT and thereby to create further employment. A large private sector company would also have sizeable finances for the purchase of goods and services, and for things like sponsorship and other community activities, which, of necessity, must decline if ACTEW continues to remain in public hands.
Finally, Mr Deputy Speaker, a privatised, larger and wealthier ACTEW is likely to bring very significant benefits to the ACT economy, something I think the ACT Chamber of Commerce very much appreciates. I think the chamber is terrified that this debate looks like it is going to be lost. Unfortunately, if ACTEW continues in government ownership, it will no longer be able to offer the same benefits to our community. I think we have to face up to market realities. The ACTEW management has indicated to the Government that dramatic cost cutting of between 10 and 20 per cent is necessary and jobs will be lost.
I think the sale of ACTEW provides an unprecedented opportunity to solve the Territory's major financial problem, the unfunded superannuation liability. Any other alternative will have significant implications for government spending and taxation, and will have very negative implications for economic activity in the ACT. That does not paint a pretty picture for our local economy. I know it may well be too late, but I urge members to support this Bill. It is in the long-term best interest of the Territory.
MR BERRY (5.28): Mr Deputy Speaker, let us first take a look at an important precursor to today's debate, and I will start with a quote from last year's budget speech from the Chief Minister. She said this:
Mr Speaker, this Government has a vision for the future of Canberra as the clever, caring capital of Australia - a capital that has a dynamic and sustainable economy, and a city that has a safe, active and healthy community. The budget I present today is focused upon realising these goals over the next four years.
Remember that, four years. She continued:
It builds on the direction we established over our first three years in office and plots the course on which we hope to take Canberra as we head into the twenty-first century.
We all remember it well. She went on:
Our budget strategy is also realistic. It recognises and responds directly to the challenges and opportunities that are affecting residents, businesses and community organisations today. For the ACT to succeed and prosper as the best place in which to live and work in Australia, it will take leadership, enthusiasm and even risk-taking.
There is nothing in that or any other part of the budget speech that says a word about ACTEW. So we could do it then, but we did not have to sell ACTEW. It was unnecessary then and it is unnecessary now. There is talk about goals for the next four years. There is talk about the course for Canberra, as I said, as we head into the twenty-first century, but there is nothing about ACTEW. So why are we now hearing