Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (30 April) . . Page.. 230..
MS CARNELL (continuing):
It is a public sector initiative, looking at ways of improving the service that they give to the people of Canberra. I think we should congratulate them for being innovative. I have to say that, whenever innovative ideas come forward from the Public Service that could or will improve the service that they provide, I will support them.
MR HARGREAVES: My question is to the Deputy Chief Minister. In the past couple of days we have heard in this place that the Chief Minister is happy to leave the decision on the sale of Ecowise Services to the board of ACTEW. That organisation is reported to hold assets to the value of $400,000 and employ around 50 people. If the Minister is, or is to become, the other voting shareholder of ACTEW, can he give the Assembly an indication of what it would take for him to take a direct interest in an organisation in which he holds a 50 per cent shareholding in trust on behalf of the people of Canberra?
MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, that is a question that I will take because I am the Treasurer. Mr Speaker, I can - - -
Mr Corbell: Mr Speaker, I wish to raise a point of order. The question was specifically directed to Mr Humphries in his capacity as a shareholder of ACTEW. He has responsibilities, too, as a 50 per cent shareholder of that organisation. We want to know Mr Humphries's view of how he intends to undertake his responsibilities as a shareholder.
Mr Humphries: Mr Speaker, on the point of order Mr Corbell has raised: Both Mrs Carnell and I are shareholders in ACTEW; but our role as shareholders is determined by the policies of the Government, on whose behalf we hold those shares. Therefore, the Treasurer, whose primary responsibility it is - and I assist her in that role - to determine what the policy should be in respect of ACTEW and component parts thereof, is the appropriate person to answer that question.
Mr Berry: Further to the point of order, Mr Speaker: Mr Humphries is a voting shareholder. It is not just some symbol in the night. He is a voting shareholder, and the community is entitled to know and understand what his position is in relation to the matter.
MR SPEAKER: I am about to rule on the point of order, Mr Berry.
Mr Berry: May I restate the standing order, Mr Speaker: Questions may be put to a Minister relating to public affairs - I think a voting shareholding in ACTEW is a public affair - with which that Minister is officially connected. I think it is pretty official that Mr Humphries is a voting shareholder.
MR SPEAKER: Order! The house will come to order. It is also true, however, that House of Representatives Practice, at page 505, under the heading "Direction of Questions - to Ministers", states that questions may be transferred to other Ministers.