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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (20 April) . . Page.. 1008 ..

Mr Deputy Speaker, I ask members to consider on their merits partnering options that are put before the Assembly. As I mentioned earlier, the Government has not developed a position on how, with whom, or exactly what kind of partnering arrangement would be best at this stage, but we are exploring the opportunities to do that. Indeed, we have to do that because that is our obligation. The Assembly has set constraints on our operation. It has set constraints on what we can do. We are attempting as a government to comply with those constraints, to bring forward to the Assembly an option which is acceptable to the Assembly but which retains the capacity for public ownership. If you want to get stuck into us because we are doing that, because we are complying with the Assembly's requirements of us, then go right ahead on the level of politics. I intend to make sure that we honour our obligations, both to this Assembly by way of the decision in February and to the broader community, to protect the asset we have in ACTEW. We will continue with the process we have begun already.

I call to mind some words of Robert Kennedy some years ago in respect of opposition. He said, "One in five people think everything is a bad idea all of the time". Indeed, that is very true. There will always be somebody who is willing to oppose a particular proposition put forward. It is unfortunate that the ACT Opposition appears to be a statistical anomaly in that not just one in five but six out of six of their members are prepared to oppose a particular idea all of the time if it comes from a Liberal Party government. Mr Deputy Speaker, I hope that other members of this place will not be so narrow-minded about those matters, that the Assembly as a whole will be prepared to accept that we need to think laterally about problems in this area and about solutions to those problems. That is what we intend to do.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (4.47): I am sorry that I have such a short time to speak in the debate as there are a number of issues that I would have liked to traverse and I will not get through them all.

Mr Humphries: Do it again tomorrow.

MR STANHOPE: I am sure that this is a debate that we will have again and we will all have plenty of opportunities. We really do need to correct the misconception that is now being peddled unremittingly by the Government that the Labor Party is not prepared to look objectively and dispassionately at appropriate proposals for the future of ACTEW. We are. The problem is, and it has been highlighted by a number of speakers already, that the Government lacks so much credibility that we are simply not prepared to take at face value anything you do or say when it comes to ACTEW. That is the crux of the problem. We are, quite rightly, questioning everything you do because you are, again, just destroying appropriate and proper process. You have done it in the way that you have gone straight to a proposed ACTEW-Great Southern merger the day ahead of calls for expressions of interest. That is just appalling.

I do want to take the one minute remaining to me to address the issue raised by the Deputy Chief Minister about the Canberra Times editorial. I think that it was a disgraceful editorial by the Canberra Times, absolutely disgraceful.

Mr Humphries: Of course you would.

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