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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 2875 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

claims will be made, and there is no guarantee that premium prices will actually fall. I still maintain that the establishment of government-backed insurance pooling for community organisations is the way to drop premium prices.

The other thing that Treasurer Quinlan has in this appropriation for Treasury is the Expenditure Review Committee, a thinly disguised razor gang which has the job of finding cuts in all departments. During estimates we were unable to find out their brief, who was going to be involved beyond the ministry and any details about what the Treasurer wants from the review committee. So I have a number of concerns about this department that have not been abated by estimates.

As we move from debating to implementing the budget, I will continue to monitor and fight to keep the government accountable in the areas covered by this appropriation.

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections) (5.55): In closing the debate I might address in reverse order the remarks that have been made. Ms Dundas made some observations in relation to insurance companies. If you met with the various Treasurers or finance ministers who have wrestled with this problem you would probably find that you have just stated the bleeding obvious. The only trouble is that it is an international market and we are trying to wrestle with some very pressing practical issues. But rest assured that we are aware that the insurance industry has a lot to answer for.

I am surprised on a couple of counts by what Mr Cornwell said. I am surprised that he threw TransACT into the mix because I think TransACT is doing reasonably well. One of the anomalies along the way for it to arrive at its current capital structure was in fact the previous government investing some $30 million in it because there had been some difficulties with changeover of equipment from Nortel to Marconi-and there have been some difficulties in run out. Effectively, it was said that there had been losses.

But you, your party, the government you were part of, didn't set about revaluing the company before lending new money but actually piled the new money on top of some of the bad old money. In fact, I think the territory has been done down in that regard. It is now is in a position where it is marginally less than a 25 per cent shareholder, and that is a very significant fraction. There are some 75 per cent rules in relation to what can be done by TransACT, what can be decided by TransACT. We effectively had a lot of money involved and been parlayed out of the game to a large extent.

TransACT is borrowing and it is borrowing because we as shareholders have said we are not investing any more money in it. We have agreed to allow Actew to underwrite some of that borrowing but only on the condition that we have absolute first call over the assets of TransACT should there be any failure. That is part of the process of rigorous financial management that we were talking about.

Full retail contestability is still under consideration within the government. We have the ICRC report. I think members really should take time to have a little look at the position we are in in the ACT. Because of the creation of a national grid a market is operating and within that market Actew has purchased very well.

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