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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (16 May) . . Page.. 1744 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

given to two matters that have so far been raised in this Assembly regarding ActewAGL. I am sure Mr Quinlan will join us shortly.

In April, I asked the Treasurer a question about his input into ActewAGL's proposal to spend $50 million on building a gas-fired power station at Hume, and whether the proposal had looked at alternatives, such as demand management and building more green power stations. Mr Quinlan said that he has had no input into ActewAGL's actions, and that ActewAGL was an independent partnership. He said that he was happy to pass on my questions to ActewAGL, but then he said, "I hope to be consulted on this, although I have to say that I would have to read the contract that set up ActewAGL to know if I have got any influence whatsoever."

Yesterday, we had a motion from Ms Dundas calling on the Treasurer to request ActewAGL to include information on customers' electricity bills about carbon emissions generated by those customers. Mr Quinlan responded by saying that he was still getting a ruling on exactly how much clout the government has with ActewAGL, given that we sold half of Actew a couple of years ago to a commercial body that quite clearly has strictly commercial, as opposed to social, objectives. He also said that he cannot guarantee that a motion passed in this place under the current structure could be enforced with ActewAGL, because AGL owns half of ActewAGL and we have no say over AGL.

I find Mr Quinlan's comments alarming, first, because he does not seem to know what his roles and powers are in relation to ActewAGL, even though he has been minister for six months now. Second, he does not seem to be very worried about what ActewAGL does, even though the government is a half-owner of ActewAGL, and has millions of taxpayers' dollars tied up in its operation.

He also does not seem to be very concerned that the Actew side of ActewAGL is a territory-owned corporation, which has an obligation to make not only a commercial return, but also to act in the public interest. I would like to remind Mr Quinlan and this Assembly of this obligation. When Actew was corporatised in 1995, the Greens worked hard to have additional corporate objectives inserted into the Territory Owned Corporations Act that would apply specifically to Actew.

Other TOCs, or territory-owned corporations, have the objectives of operating at least as efficiently as any comparable business, and maximising the sustainable return to the territory on its investment. Actew has additional objectives, which are set out in schedule 4 of the TOC Act. First, Actew is to "exhibit a sense of social responsibility by having regard to the interests of the community in which it operates". Second, Actew is to, "where its activities affect the environment-conduct its operations in compliance with the principles of ecologically sustainable development".

ESD is then defined in the schedule. In summary, it is taken to require the effective integration of economic and environmental considerations in decision-making processes in accordance with the precautionary principle, the intergenerational equity principle, the conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity, and the improved valuation and pricing of environmental resources.

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