Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (2 February) . . Page.. 83 ..
MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):
community. Certainly, it is recognised that ACTEW's retail electricity arm will be impacted by deregulation, but this is not the corporation's core revenue spinner. The earnings before interest and taxes, based on ACTEW's own figures in ABN AMRO's scoping study, are forecast at $73.2m in 2003. (Extension of time granted) Clearly we do not have a dud. We do have something to work with.
Mr Moore: You will have to be quick.
Ms Carnell: It was because they want to finish.
Mr Hargreaves: Well, too bad. You blokes have filibustered all day. Let him go.
Ms Carnell: It is nothing to do with us. It is that Ossie wants to leave. We are happy to stay here all night.
MR SPEAKER: Order, please! Mr Rugendyke, proceed, please.
MR RUGENDYKE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. In my view private ownership is not the answer at this time. However, I am prepared to consider other options that could enhance ACTEW if they were to arise in the future. Selling ACTEW now is not an alternative when safeguards are not set in concrete to preserve both the quality of service and the funds that would be derived from a sale.
The Government is welded to the process of the ACTEW sale as the only answer to the Territory's unfunded superannuation. The select committee report on this issue presented the alternative of chipping away at the debt over a longer period of time. Keeping ACTEW and meeting the debt is the ideal scenario for the Territory. I would much rather see this model pursued than stumble into a panic sale.
Mr Moore referred to my decision being announced after the release of the superannuation inquiry report. That is the commitment I gave; that I would not make a mockery of Mr Quinlan's committee. I did wait until after that report was handed down before I announced my decision. I would like to put on the record that the superannuation report was only one component of a complex issue which I took into account. This was just one doubt in my mind, but not the only doubt.
There are positive points to emerge from this debate. I am particularly pleased to see the work on the regulatory framework that is being done. There has been very solid progress made in these areas and I would hope that this continues in the same manner, regardless of today's result. I also hope that the Chief Minister recognises the threats that she made this week in the media should this Bill be opposed by the Assembly. It would be a vindictive minority government that would choose to punish ACTEW and the community because they lost this debate. Mr Speaker, retaining ACTEW and utilising it to meet the superannuation debt is the most desirable option for the ACT, and I would rather see this option explored fully than endorse a rushed panic sale.