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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (28 March) . . Page.. 1033 ..

Totalcare-provision of services

Debate resumed.

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (3.18): Mr Speaker, I would like to thank Mr Stanhope for giving the government the chance today to speak on the issues he has raised in his motion on Totalcare. It is important that the government take up the opportunity to demonstrate, first of all, our commitment to Totalcare and its employees and also our commitment to the provision of quality services to the residents of the ACT, matters which are appropriately raised in this debate.

I am always happy to remind members of this place of the government's proud record in the provision of quality service to residents of the ACT. I am delighted to have the opportunity to remind the Assembly of our continuing efforts to improve the quality of service delivery, the effectiveness and efficiency of that delivery and the many reforms we have championed in that area.

I remind the Assembly of the government's demonstration of its commitment to Totalcare and its employees. This is reflected in a number of factors. The government has transferred significant assets and functions to Totalcare. At 30 June 2000 Totalcare had over $80 million in public assets which it held on behalf of its owners, the ACT community.

Mr Speaker, no-one sets up business enterprises to fail, and we certainly do not. The government has supported the efforts of Totalcare's board and management and its staff to improve Totalcare's competitiveness. Members will be aware of the extensive program of business viability reviews which Totalcare has undertaken with support from staff, unions and the government. Significant public resources have been invested to restructure Totalcare and position it for a successful future in the competitive markets in which it and its staff must create their own future.

The government has been a patient owner and not made outrageous or inappropriate demands for dividends on Totalcare whilst Totalcare restructures its operation. The government has provided access to additional funding to enable Totalcare to fund restructure costs.

Recognising the origin of the various Totalcare business units in government departments, the government provided tied contracts to Totalcare in relation to the business activities it transferred to Totalcare. These arrangements were generally long-term contracts which allowed Totalcare some breathing space to restructure and improve the competitiveness of the various business units. The majority of these arrangements continue to this day.

The government has actively supported Totalcare's efforts to develop new business activities to give Totalcare and its employees a more secure future. This includes Totalcare's efforts to win interstate business and, more recently, its joint ventures in the Williamsdale quarry and with Stericorp in relation to treatment of medical waste. Totalcare and its employees have benefited from the government's demonstrated commitment in this and a range of areas over the last few years.

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