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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (9 August) . . Page.. 2754 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

It strikes me that when you create these authorities, corporations, TOCs, call them what you like, it is one step away from accountability. The benefit for Mr Hargreaves, if he succeeds in government next year, is that he will have that same escape. He will be that one step away from accountability-mea culpa; it's the board. We remember Bruce and we remember Totalcare. So these are my concerns, Mr Speaker.

I would have thought it might have made sense if profitability was a factor. It concerns me greatly that we spend about $70 million on a bus service, about $50 million on police and about $50 million on children's welfare. It is an outrageously expensive bus service. I know that the people in the gallery do their best to make ACTION as profitable as they can, but they know themselves that it is not possible. It never has been and it never will be, but I don't know that turning it into an authority or a corporation will make a jot of difference. It will still cost $70-something million.

Mr Hargreaves: It has to put it in an annual report.

MR RUGENDYKE: An annual report. There's a brave call.

Mr Hargreaves: You have to put it in.

MR RUGENDYKE: Yes. Accountability is the big question for me. Mr Speaker, I am suspicious about the two major parties here cooking up this deal. I will have no part of it. I will not be supporting it.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Business, Tourism and the Arts and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (9.08), in reply: Mr Speaker, I simply rise to thank the majority of members for their support. This process started in November 1999 and we have taken some time to get here. It is pleasing that a single set of agreed amendments will go ahead. Mr Quinlan will move shortly the amendments the government has agreed to. We believe there are some sensible amendments there, which is why we will be supporting them.

The bill as amended will then establish ACTION as a statutory authority. That is why it is not covered by the TOC Act. It will be an authority.

In regard to payments, the general theme of some of the debate seems to be about a guarantee that services are provided to those less well off. Of course, the government's community service obligation will continue. It will continue with a great deal of clarity because we will be purchasing the service and it will be transparent that the purchase is made.

Mr Speaker, I wish to express some thanks in respect of this bill. Peter Madden in Mr Quinlan's office and Mr Quinlan have worked very hard with James Lennane from my office, Guy Thurston, Brian Macdonald, Rosemary Garratt and Allan Traves. Several other members of the department have all worked very hard to bring us to this point and I thank them for their good endeavours.

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