Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 2872 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
The budget paper is littered with these sorts of meaningless targets. The attempt in the budget to reduce all government activity to outputs has created much confusion between those activities which involve ongoing procedural work and those aimed at specific objectives.
The measures of quality and timeliness are also poorly defined in percentage terms. Sometimes the measure has a satisfaction level of 95 per cent. In other cases, however, it is 90 per cent, 75 per cent, 80 per cent, 85 per cent, 99 per cent or 100 per cent. I have yet to see how qualitative indicators can be assessed so precisely and objectively in these various percentage terms. Before it presents its next budget, the government needs to review the legacy left from the previous government of reducing everything in the budget to outputs.
Getting back to Treasury matters, in line with the government's commitment to sustainability, I hope the government will pursue options for ethical investment of its cash and super funds. Seeking the best return on investment is inherently risky. We have seen much variation in the government's budget position over time, due to changes in our investment returns. On the contrary, ethical investment can produce a reasonable and steady rate of return, as well as providing active support to worthwhile industries.
In fact, one of the major ethical investment trusts in Australia is based in Canberra. That is Australian Ethical Investment Limited, which has about 40 employees. I am not suggesting that the government favour this fund. I am just pointing out that there are economic opportunities for the ACT in encouraging a local ethical investment industry.
MR CORNWELL (5.42): Mr Speaker, I would like to speak briefly about a couple of the territory-owned corporations, and I would also like speak about one that is not a TOC but nevertheless is, I understand, under the Treasury responsibility.
The first one I would like to mention is Actew. I note that TransACT appears to be running up some considerable debts. I have to say that there have been some comments about the difficulty of reading some of these documents. It is not clear to me whether in fact the two amounts of $10 million and $26 million, which would lead you to conclude that the total amount is $36 million, are in fact two amounts or whether one of them is part of the total.
I simply flag the question of TransACT because I think we are going to have to keep an eye on the matter and hopefully we won't find that the territory is increasing its investment in that business venture. I am becoming increasingly concerned about governments getting involved in private sector ventures and committing considerable amounts of money.
The real point I want to address, though, so far as Actew is concerned is the matter of full retail contestability. I note that the Estimates Committee was concerned about aspects of this. The majority of the committee noted that while businesses may pay less, domestic consumers may pay more for electricity under retail contestability. The committee went on to note that there may be overall benefits to full retail contestability. It noted that the government is going to implement the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission's recommendations by 1 January 2003. The committee then