Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 2797 ..
MR HUMPHRIES: I thank Mr Quinlan for that question. He made reference to the recommendation that we received as the Government on an appropriate debt-equity ratio for ACTEW. The Government, on receiving that report, did not go through the report and decide whether it accepted or rejected each particular comment or recommendation in the body of the report as to things like the appropriate long-term debt-equity ratio. I have no opinion at this stage about the appropriate ratio. Obviously it should be one which minimises the exposure of the organisation and reduces any likelihood of not being able to appropriately cope with changes in the financial position in the future. The Government has put on the record very clearly its concern that ACTEW's future is less than assured, given particularly the changes in the electricity market in Australia.
The short answer is that I do not have a particular preferred debt-equity ratio. The Government will assess the situation from time to time. If ACTEW, for example, through the process of developing documents that will plan its course over the next few years sets a ratio which is too high, the Chief Minister and I, as shareholders, will take the time to consider whether we should recommend to the board that it should be lower.
MR QUINLAN: I virtually have no supplementary question other than to ask the Treasurer to confirm for the sake of Hansard that neither the past nor the present Treasurer has given the working party evaluating the merger any guidelines in relation to the level of financial risk that government might consider appropriate.
MR HUMPHRIES: I have given no such directions or guidelines to the working party. The former Treasurer advises me that she has not either.
MS TUCKER: My question is directed to the Treasurer, who is responsible for land development in the ACT. I did give Mr Humphries notice of this question. Minister, last week, in an MPI regarding the direct grant of land at McKellar shops to Tokich Homes, you suggested that you were happy with the process followed by your department in granting the land to Tokich Homes, despite the fact that they were a different entity to the Eco-Land group which originally proposed this development. I have since received legal advice that it appears that the director of Tokich Homes must be guilty of at least one offence under the Business Names Act or the Statutory Declarations Act in applying for this land in the name of Tokich Homes, trading as Eco-Land Development, because there was no evidence that they traded under that name and the business name of Eco-Land was registered by someone else. It may be that other offences are also applicable, such as fraud under the Land Titles Act. The legal advice suggests that the matter be turned over to the Australian Federal Police and/or the Director of Public Prosecutions. I seek leave to table this advice.
MS TUCKER: Minister, in light of this advice, will you undertake further investigation of this matter and report back to the Assembly in the next sitting week on the outcomes of this?