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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1560 ..

MS TUCKER (11.12): The Greens will also be supporting this bill. We see it as a necessary patch-up job to make workable the flawed privatised certification arrangements introduced by the Liberal government in 1998.

People conducting building work have found themselves unable to have their work certified because two of the major private certifiers have been the subject of disciplinary action and are unable to meet their commitments. The clients of these certifiers have to find another certifier and are having great difficulty finding one of the remaining certifiers who will take on their work, partly because of the risk and partly because of increased demand as a result of post-bushfire building activity.

I agree with the government that people who have taken the necessary steps to have their buildings certified should not be penalised because the certifiers cannot complete their projects. The problem arises because the private industry certifiers on whom the Liberal government relied proved to be unreliable, and the government did not retain an in-house capacity to provide a certification service on its own behalf.

This situation provides a salutary lesson about the problems we can face just a little way down the track as a result of privatisation initiatives. This is a case of the Liberals' chickens coming home to roost. However, the Liberals are no longer in government to face the problem. The current Labor government is now required to patch up the problems.

It is interesting to recall the debate in 1998 when Labor, the Greens and Paul Osborne opposed the package of bills that brought in these privatised industry self-certification arrangements. Our concerns were met with all sorts of bland, unsubstantiated assurances from the then minister, Brendan Smyth, that all was well. "She'll be right, mate"was essentially the message.

Mr Smyth lamented that Labor's not supporting the bills was the result of what he called the loony left in the ACT Labor Party rolling the moderate Mr Hargreaves in caucus. Those who questioned whether the safeguards were adequate were branded as "true ideologues and were accused of head in the sand sort of stuff. That is a direct quote from Mr Smyth at the time.

Instead of being prepared to re-examine their approach and fix the problems before the bills became law, the minority Liberal government passed the bills with the support of Michael Moore, Trevor Kaine and Dave Rugendyke, who were all persuaded that the measures were sound. So why did they leave the public exposed in this way?

In their blind pursuit of privatisation, they were so keen to remove the certification function from government and have the industry certifying itself that they reduced the government role to rubber-stamping private certifiers' papers and relied on limited random auditing to alert government to problems that might be going on.

The Liberals rid the government of its in-house capacity to certify and now the government needs it back. But, as I said earlier, this bill represents only a very partial patching-up. When newly elected Labor governments, with anti-privatisation platforms in opposition, inherit recent Liberal corporatisations or privatisations, they rarely have

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