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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (4 June) . . Page.. 1840 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

These policies and attitudes of the federal government are not particularly helpful to the ACT.


MR CORNWELL: My question is to Mr Quinlan as Treasurer. It concerns ActewAGL and comments made by Mr Ivan Slavich to the Canberra Times. The article reads:

General Manager retail Ivan Slavich said that through its prudent management ActewAGL and its customers were protected from price rises. "This absolutely vindicates the value of the joint venture between Actew Corporation and AGL," he said.

The Canberra Times went on to say:

ActewAGL buys much of its bulk electricity on a contract with AGL, a much larger player in the market. Mr Slavich said the benefit of the joint venture with AGL was it protected against price spikes.

Minister, have you received similar advice from Actew on the benefits of this joint venture?

MR QUINLAN: Not specific advice, Mr Cornwell, no. But let me say that the argument that Mr Slavich puts forward supports the argument that I do not think anybody disagreed with some time ago that remaining in the retailing of electricity was fraught with danger for the original Actew. I think the house is vindicated by these words for the action that it took in the days when the Liberal government wanted to flog off Actew in toto and, in fact, was foiled by this house from doing so. Certainly, I think it is sustainable to say that it would have been dangerous for Actew, because of its small nature, to have remained in the buying and selling of electricity.

Let me remind the house that when the fallback option came up for the immediate past government beyond the actual sale of Actew, the first offer that it received from AGL was the offer to take over the retail sale of electricity, to embrace that, which would have given you the direct results that you are talking about. I think it is important for the house to realise that there was therefore no compelling reason why we would sell half of the electricity distribution system and half of the water and sewerage distribution and collection systems to the joint venturer when we could have retained those in public hands and received the revenue from their operation without necessarily jeopardising the enterprise by staying in retail.

I think that what has happened today has been in accord with the expectations of every member of this Assembly over the past few years and does not come as a particular surprise. But if in some way it is to be inferred from that that the joint venture itself in the particular joint venture that we are in is somehow vindicated, I do not think that you can actually go that far in the conclusion.

Mr Humphries: That's what he says.

MR QUINLAN: That is one man's opinion, but I am saying that it does not necessarily rest in logic, Mr Humphries.

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