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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3036 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

work-it's become a world example of how new telcos are going to function in the future ...

There is absolutely a very bright future ahead of us. We see huge amounts of money to be made-the market will triple over this decade nationwide ... There is absolutely light at the end of the tunnel, but we do have to give Transact ... the full support to actually make it happen. And that's why the decision-

by Actew to increase its investment-

was so incredibly important, that the shareholders said, okay, we believe in it, we go on, and we fund the organisation properly.

That is the full context of the relevant statements, Mr Speaker.

As to the difference between making the decision and not disapproving of the decision, the ACT cabinet was given advice about problems facing TransACT if it was unable to obtain additional finance, either direct cash or commitments from its shareholders or other sources, to continue to be able to roll out its infrastructure. It was given that advice late in a week. It was given it, from memory, on a Thursday, and on Friday cabinet met to discuss the matter. In fact, cabinet spoke directly with some members of the Actew board about the matter to determine what the position was.

The government was concerned about the amount of information it had before it on which to make a decision in circumstances where Actew was asking the government for some indication of what decision it ought to make, it being the shareholder in TransACT, not the government. The government considered the position and indicated to Actew that it understood the advice that had been given to it, felt concerned that there was not enough information on which to base an alternative judgment, a judgment of its own on the matter, and instead said that the Actew board should exercise its own judgment about whether to proceed to make that further investment in TransACT. The Actew board indeed did make such a decision.

Mr Speaker, that was described earlier by someone in this place, by Mr Kaine, as the government trying to distance itself from the decision to invest in TransACT. It is obvious from my remarks today that the government believes that TransACT is very important and that it is important that investment be made in it to secure its future. That is the government's view. But we also take the view that investment has to be made responsibly and that we need to assess very carefully the weight of evidence about the risk associated for the community of making a further investment.

It is worth bearing in mind a simple point about this. If TransACT had arisen as an opportunity for this community at a time when a Labor government was in office, we have to assume that there would have been, not a 27 per cent shareholding or a 36 per cent shareholding, but a 100 per cent shareholding, because the Labor Party-

Mr Wood: Here we go again; you are speculating.

MR HUMPHRIES: You say that you are not in favour of privatisation. Therefore, presumably, if this is a good thing, you would have invested in it 100 per cent.

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