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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (2 February) . . Page.. 77 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

petulant threats from the Chief Minister? These appear to be the vindictive intentions of the Chief Minister who, after months of talking down ACTEW's prospects, is miffed at the sensible refusal of members to be swayed by the Government's scare tactics and will maliciously attempt to force the sky to fall in, as she has threatened.

In the ACT election and in the budget we were misled. We were voting on false pretences. The whole ACTEW debate has been a debate about leadership and risk-taking. More specifically, it has been about leadership failure and false pretences. Leadership is not about blind ideology, as we see coming from the Liberal Government. It is not about a crash or crash-through mentality. It is about integrity, it is about honesty, and it is about responsibility, not just to current electors but to future generations. It is about sensitivity to the community's needs and wishes. The Chief Minister has failed these tests, but she has excelled in her willingness to take risks with the people's property, risk-taking.

In the current debate the Chief Minister has misled the community on the true state of our economy, on the true state of her budget, on the viability of ACTEW and on the options for managing the superannuation liability - a liability which has grown because of the Chief Minister's failure to manage the ACT's finances responsibly. The Labor Party, in contrast, is about planning and managing in the long term. Our arguments in this debate have been about the long-term needs of the Canberra community, not blind ideology, not about the next election, and not about life after politics. We instinctively knew that the dogmatic approach to the sale of assets from the Liberals would continue. We also knew that the sale of ACTEW was against the interests of the Canberra community, and we were honest enough to declare emphatically at the last election that ACTEW would not be sold. We said it and we stuck to that promise right to the end. We will stick to it now.

We are also the only party, for Mr Moore's interest, to put forward a comprehensive budget statement in accrual terms against the background of our promise not to sell ACTEW. It was also clear to us that the Government case, if it chose to sell ACTEW, could be demolished, and we set about doing that and we have done it successfully.

The rationale, of course, has been the big numbers around the superannuation liability, the hole in the budget, but it is the black hole, partly at least, of the Chief Minister's creation. This was always a thin rationale for the sale of ACTEW, an inappropriate reason, as many commentators have properly said. Big numbers were cooked up in a brew to frighten the misinformed. That is what Mrs Carnell's case has been about. But we found out very early in the piece that the numbers were shaky. Noting the observation that the superannuation predictions were conservative, who is surprised at that? In the scheme of things, finance departments and treasury departments are always conservative in their predictions. Would we be surprised, I ask you all, if the Government announced at some point in the future once ACTEW is sold that things are not as bad as first thought and now we have this loose cash in our war chest for the next election? Would we be surprised at that? No, we would expect that because of the conservative predictions which have been attached to the superannuation liability.

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