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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (20 April) . . Page.. 974 ..

MR SPEAKER: Order! I might add, Chief Minister, that you do not have to answer questions that ask for an expression of opinion. If members do not like the idea that it is a hypothetical question, they might like to consider that.

MS CARNELL: We believe it should be fifty-fifty. Obviously, the level of gearing of any new entity would be decided jointly between New South Wales and the ACT. It would be based upon the capacity of the new operator to trade efficiently in the marketplace. I think what we are seeing here is Mr Stanhope and those opposite getting their knickers in a bit of a knot because Mr Egan would not see them. I can understand that you might get upset when your own colleagues in New South Wales say, "Jon who? Jon Stanhope - who is that?".

Mr Corbell: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. Relevance, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: I think the answer has been concluded.

ACTEW - Consultants

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister. Can the Chief Minister explain why ACTEW Corporation decided to engage ABN AMRO, at a price of $250,000, as consultants responsible for assessing the expressions of interest process without conducting a public tender process?

MS CARNELL: The ACT Government did not engage ABN AMRO to do that work. ACTEW did. ACTEW decided on that.

Mr Corbell: I did not say the ACT Government did.

MR SPEAKER: Order, please! Let the Chief Minister answer the question.

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, if Mr Corbell has not seen a copy of the chairman of the board's press release on this exact issue, I am more than happy to find one for him. Boards of corporations have the capacity to engage consultants and to run their corporations. Interestingly, they do not ask for the advice of shareholders on issues like that, because they are about the day-to-day running of the corporation.

With regard to the appointment of ABN AMRO, Mr Service made the point in his press release, and I think in subsequent interviews, that the reason they decided to put on ABN AMRO is that ABN AMRO had done significant work for the ACTEW Corporation already and were still engaged in doing the work on the regulatory framework and so were well versed in the corporation and the depth of its business. They understood the business very well. I think Mr Service's view would be that to put on somebody else at this stage would incur a significant extra cost to ACTEW.

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