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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (9 August) . . Page.. 2752 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

There is similar language in the ACTION Corporation Bill which says that the corporation may not, without the Treasurer's prior written approval, sell or otherwise dispose of, or mortgage or otherwise give security over, a significant asset. There is no reporting requirement in the legislation. The Treasurer's behaviour lately suggests to me that we ought to be thinking about some further additions to the legislation to require the Treasurer to report to the Assembly any acquisitions, disposals or giving of security over significant assets, because, in the case of the Williamsdale quarry, something has happened out there and the Treasurer will not tell us what is going on. There is no requirement in the Territory Owned Corporations Act at this point requiring him to report. That does not prevent us from asking him questions, but, of course, the Treasurer really does not want to answer them. I think he is trying to bank on not having to answer the question before the 30 days runs out and we get into the caretaker period before the election and he will not have to tell anybody.

Without a satisfactory answer from the Treasurer in relation to this matter, we will have to keep in the back of our minds the requirement to put an additional requirement for reporting in relation to this matter. If we do not we will end up in the same sort of situation where there may be a mortgage or a giving of security over a significant asset which may escape the knowledge of this Assembly. As it is, the relevant minister, the Chief Minister and Treasurer in this case, is refusing to answer questions in relation to the Williamsdale quarry. Is anybody suggesting that he would be more kind in relation to this statutory authority with similar provisions? I think not, if he were to be embarrassed. That is the position which I think members ought to keep in their minds when considering the handing over of significant authority in relation to the restrictions on contracts and dealing with assets prescribed at clause 7 of the bill which is before the house.

I raise that, Mr Speaker, because it is a topical issue and it is one that is being unsatisfactorily responded to by the government in relation to its other major undertakings.

MR QUINLAN (8.58): The bill that I think will pass tonight will be the result of a considerable amount of work by ACTION, the government and the TWU in the early stages, and more latterly virtually a five-way interaction between the government, the TWU, ACTION, my office and Parliamentary Counsel. Members will have received a raft of proposed amendments, updated as of today, but there is nothing earth-shattering in those amendments as opposed to previous sets of amendments that have been circulated.

One of the keys, I think, to the acceptance by the workers within ACTION, by the TWU, has been the commitment by government to a five-year contract. I point out to the house that if this legislation is adopted and the five-year contract is negotiated and put in place, it is likely to be put in place some time next year, possibly even 1 July. That means that that contract will mature on 1 July 2007, which happens to be a few months before the election after the election after the next. So if there is any threat to ACTION and a change in format in ACTION beyond that point, I do not think there would be a great deal of difficulty for members of the Assembly, or aspiring members of the Assembly, to make a political issue of it. I rather think there is a certain degree of insurance for the long-term security of workers at ACTION and the long-term

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