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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4101 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

do occur, and no doubt will continue to occur. What we are trying to do is minimise the number of incidents but react appropriately when they do occur.


MS TUCKER: My question is directed to the Chief Minister, and relates to the announcement that the Chief Minister has given approval for ACTEW to progress proposals for the formation of a joint venture for its energy business with the AGL company. Chief Minister, you stated at the time that the ACT's water and sewerage assets would remain wholly owned by the ACT Government. You did not elaborate on who would be controlling these assets. Could you therefore tell the Assembly whether you intend this new joint venture to operate the water and sewerage side of ACTEW under a franchise agreement, as you have proposed in the previous bid which was to privatise ACTEW a year ago? If not, are you therefore proposing to establish a separate territory owned corporation to just provide water and sewerage services and allow the merged ACTEW-AGL to provide the energy services?

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, the proposal at this stage is for the entity that is a result of the strategic partnership between ACTEW and AGL to have a management contract to manage water and sewerage. The assets would be totally owned by the ACT Government.

MS TUCKER: On a related issue, I note that part of the proposal is to build a gas-fired power plant in the ACT. I understand that an earlier proposal for such a plant was dropped by ACTEW because it proved uneconomic. Can you explain to us how the economics have changed? Also will your Government do a comparative analysis of alternative electricity generation options that are even more greenhouse friendly than gas before committing millions of dollars to a gas-fired plant?

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, I do not think it is an "or" approach. We have got to look at all forms of energy. It is certainly true that a gas-fired power station, I understand, could address something like 50 per cent of our greenhouse gas targets all by itself, depending on how big it ends up being, of course. The proposal as it stands is for AGL to build the gas-fired power station. As we have said, this is only a first stage of working up a possible strategic partnership. It is early days. I do not think it would be appropriate to try to get into detail simply because, at this stage, they do not actually exist.

The other part of Ms Tucker's supplementary question was: What has changed? A similar question was asked earlier this week by a member of the Labor Party about the old proposal for a gas-fired power station and a new one. I suppose the old one ACTEW was going to build all by itself. The market for electricity has fundamentally changed over that period. It is our understanding that with the strategic partnership with AGL there is a good chance a gas-fired power station could stack up this time.

There are also, of course, some really good industry reasons for having a gas-fired power station in the ACT. First of all, it protects the ACT from situations such as what happened in South Australia just in the last couple of weeks. It means we are not at the mercy of generators at least 300 kilometres away from the ACT. There are some benefits, but they have all got to be weighed up. The work has got to be done. Due

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