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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 203 ..

MR QUINLAN: I will continue for the time being. Mr Smyth has circulated an amendment which does two things, Mr Deputy Speaker. It changes the motion significantly and it obviates the necessity for my amendment to the motion.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: I understand that.

MR QUINLAN: In the meantime, just for the hell of it, I will move the amendment circulated in my name. I move:

After the words "That this Assembly"insert the words ", subject to an assessment by the Auditor-General of the commercial-in-confidence nature of the information,".

In the course of this day there seems to have been something missing, a piece missing. Businesses have approached Ms Dundas because they feel that they have been undercut a bit by Totalcare. We do not know who those businesses are. Those businesses certainly have not approached the government, as far as I am aware; at least, they haven't approached me. So I do not understand exactly that problem. We inherited from governments past Totalcare in a state in which we would not want to be starting it. Nevertheless, that was the position from which we had to start.

The livelihoods of the better part of 400 people are wrapped up in this process-400 people employed by Totalcare, most of whom were farmed out from the government sector with lots of assurances, assurances that it will probably transpire will be unable to be met, such as, "If the business folds, you will be back in the public service and trained if we can find a job for you."You just can't do that for 400 people.

The government has no interest whatsoever in hiding information in relation to Totalcare, other than in ensuring that Totalcare's viability, which is teetering, is protected to the maximum, not that that will be sufficient, maybe, to save some of the operations within Totalcare. But we would like to go through a commonsense process of managing that business and the various elements of it. Remember, it is a disparate collection of businesses, some of which have absolutely no relationship to each other, but which nevertheless were placed together in this enterprise under a desire to shove them outside the government sector or for other reasons that I do not want to canvass here because they are only rumour.

So we have this business that is struggling in some areas. We have this business that is providing services that are probably not immediately available elsewhere-essential services, sterilisation, some of the linen services-and a whole load of capital invested in them. Whether the linen service makes a profit depends on how much, notionally, the health system pays Totalcare, so we start to get into a bit of murky accounting. In fact, on the second two elements of cost in this motion, paragraphs (c) and (d), what you will get when those costings are done, and they are not done now in that manner, is, unfortunately, an accountants' answer.

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