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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (2 February) . . Page.. 9 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

Comments in the dissenting report on the interstate comparisons also need to be briefly addressed. It is incorrect to say that the report did not acknowledge the different tax bases, because we actually did acknowledge that. The fact that the liabilities built up so quickly is not particularly significant in terms of dealing with the unfunded liability. The ACT's situation of only starting contributions in 1989 is unique, but the yearly superannuation payments will stabilise as the CSS and PSS schemes finish. The critical issue is to smooth out the hump rather than trying to find all the money now for payments that have to be made many years in the future.

Mr Speaker, I have been very concerned to see that this Government had not seriously looked at options for funding the super liability other than the sale of ACTEW. Obviously the Government was very confident of getting support for the proposal and did not feel the need to explore other options, and this is of grave concern. This lack of rigour is also obvious in responses from the Office of Financial Management to questions related to other revenue options. At one point an official did mention the "We will have to double the rates" line. When I questioned the official further about whether or not this statement was the result of a review of possible revenue options and whether OFM had done work on the important matter of revenue possibilities, the answer was negative. So, it was a political line, another scare tactic, often used by the Chief Minister, but not supported by any real examination of the issues. There is a recommendation in this report that such work should be done. To me, it is another disturbing lack of objectivity and serious analysis of all possible options and solutions.

In conclusion, Mr Speaker, I would like to say that I found this committee inquiry extremely informative and helpful in understanding the complex issues. I would not pretend to be an expert. However, after having had the opportunity to listen to the number of expert and highly qualified witnesses who took such a different view from the one the Government has been pushing, I am able to say with confidence that there are obviously less dramatic approaches that can be taken to address the unfunded superannuation liability.

I was very concerned to hear the punishing and negative responses from the Chief Minister to the recommendations of this committee and to the announcement of a no sale vote from the Independents of the Assembly. It is obviously critical that Mrs Carnell and her Government work with the will of the Assembly and the ACT community in a professional and committed fashion. These are difficult times - no-one is denying that - and the Government must rise above its disappointment at its first major political defeat and get on with the job.

MR OSBORNE (11.06): I will be brief because I think I reopen the debate on ACTEW. The first point I want to speak about is one that both Mr Quinlan and Ms Tucker referred to, and that is the issue of Mr Hird's dissenting report. I have just read through it again. In paragraph 1.1.2 Mr Hird says:

There were no "obvious difficulties" - as claimed in the report - in assessing broad community views and opinions on the issues. Indeed, the issues relating to the Territory's superannuation commitments have been canvassed widely in the community over several years. The issues have also been thoroughly examined by Towers Perrin, the ACT

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