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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1539 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

Similarly, with transport and distribution, there is a critical mass point. If you become a distribution centre of sufficient magnitude in specialised products, all of a sudden you will find that the production of those specialised products follows. If we became a centre for the distribution of, say, organic food, we might find that within a few years we had a whole organic food industry in Canberra and in the region.

I do believe that it is necessary for this town to take stock of itself, to the point of conducting a population capability study. There are delimiting parameters in growth. We are an inland city. One of the delimiting parameters in the growth of a city is water. We can stretch our capacity by limiting the use of water, by developing uses of such things as grey water. That is one of the reasons that the ALP will fight against losing ACTEW and will particularly fight against losing water and sewerage. ACTEW must be in public control, because water is one of the basic parameters of our future growth and the future of the kids that come beyond us.

In conclusion, I find this budget both unremarkable in many ways and disturbing in others. We in the ALP would like to see the ACT economy serve its people and not have the people serve the economy, which is the way we are heading, and certainly not have the people and the economy serve the merchant banking industry.

MR RUGENDYKE (8.23): I must admit that I did have concerns that the Government might produce a vindictive budget because of its failed ACTEW sale. However, there appears to be nothing of a vindictive nature, which indicates to me that the Government has finally accepted the community's will on the future of ACTEW. This budget rams home to me just how right my decision was to oppose the sale of ACTEW earlier this year. The Government said that we had to sell ACTEW to address the operating loss and the superannuation debt. But this budget proves that there is a way to keep ACTEW in public hands and address the debt.

We are heading for an operating surplus four years ahead of schedule, and the $300m repatriation from ACTEW to the superannuation debt does not adversely impact on the overall budget, which the Government has to be congratulated on. This proves to me that it was the best option to keep ACTEW. The Territory has in ACTEW a fantastic community asset, and we have a stable financial position which is headed in the right direction. I would like to point out, however, that the forecast was to get the operating loss down to $139m this year, but the final outcome is to be around the $150m mark. This does raise questions about the optimism of getting it down to $64m as this year's budget predicts. We are headed in the right direction as far as the bottom line is concerned. The task now is to ensure that the community concerns and services are correctly prioritised and implemented. There is an enormous amount of work ahead of the Government and this Assembly to come up with the right mix.

Before I raise some concerns I have, I think it is important to give credit where credit is due. I would like to commend the public servants in our fine Public Service who put in the hard yakka which resulted in the additional $85m Commonwealth funding we see in this budget. I think that we all agree that this long overdue funding helps make up a shortfall and is finally recognition from our counterparts on the hill that we are a unique city with unique constrictions that are a direct result of planning decisions made by Federal politicians in earlier days. The detractors of this $85m injection seem to think

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