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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 4 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 955..


MRS CARNELL (continuing):

Mr Osborne earlier spoke about Mr De Domenico giving him an undertaking that there will be somebody from an organisation such as the Smith Family. I have no doubt that they have people who both understand the requirements of people on lower incomes in our society and also have business expertise. Let us be fair: Organisations such as the Salvation Army and the Smith Family are almost as big as ACTEW, and are probably bigger on a nationwide basis. They know that they have to run their entities efficiently if they are to service their clients, and that is really what this is about.

We will be opposing the amendment, but we are saying quite categorically that there will be on the board somebody who represents an organisation that looks after people on lower incomes, people who are socially disadvantaged. We also undertake to run the names of the directors and their CVs past this Assembly or, alternatively, the appropriate committee.

MR WHITECROSS (11.58): The Labor Party will be supporting Ms Horodny's amendment. In indicating the Government's opposition, the Chief Minister has given us - I am lost for words - a load of nonsense. Having had her Minister happily promise one of the positions to an organisation from the welfare sector or someone connected with the welfare sector, such as the Smith Family or the Salvation Army, it does not seem to me that she is in a position to say that it is impossible to find someone who knows something about the environment who could be qualified to be on the board of directors or someone with industrial relations experience who could be on the board of directors, which rather gives the lie to the nonsense Mrs Carnell talks. To suggest that there cannot be on the board of directors of ACTEW someone who will not end up in gaol and who has industrial relations experience, or who will not end up in gaol and who has environmental or conservation understanding, is just a nonsense.

I point out to the house and to Mrs Carnell that the selection committee for these positions includes the chairperson of the board or another person nominated by the voting shareholders, two further people nominated by the voting shareholders, and two persons nominated by a relevant body that understands these issues. This means that, effectively, the voting shareholders have the numbers on the selection committee but they have on the selection committee a minority of people who can give them good advice about the qualifications of people in industrial relations or environmental concerns or social welfare concerns in order to ensure that there is the right blend of experience on the board.

Quite frankly, I would have thought that the kind of company that I am sure ACTEW will be and that the Government assures us ACTEW will be is the kind of company that would benefit greatly by having on its board someone with industrial relations experience and someone with an understanding of the environment. To suggest that this proposal is some sort of nightmare that is going to result in a raft of incompetents being appointed to the board just does not hold water. The practice of having on the board of directors of a company someone who is a representative of the staff is quite common. It is particularly common in the public sector. There seems to be no reason why someone nominated with the input of the Trades and Labour Council, perhaps a representative of one of the staff associations, but certainly someone with the expertise necessary both to be a director and to have an understanding of industrial relations, would not make a useful contribution. It is done in lots of places, and there is no reason why it should not be done here.


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