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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 11 Hansard (16 September) . . Page.. 4072..


MR SMYTH (continuing):

contractual obligations. We will see. I have been told by some in the industry that they have grave concerns about the work that was done before this went ahead.

I have spoken to a couple of the firms that deliver big capital works projects in the territory. I said, "If your project manager came back and said it was $145 million and then it was $200 million and something, and now it is $300 million and something, what would you do?"They said: "We would just sack them. It is incompetence; you cannot be that wrong."

The problem, as I understand it, is the nature of the rock that we are digging into. One person, when commenting on it, said that they had found the rock is contaminated with sulfur, which decreases the strength of the rock. Rock is gauged normally on a strength of one to five. But the bedrock that we have got to get down to now is so much deeper than first expected that it is causing all sorts of problems.

This morning Mr Rattenbury asked, "What has this mammoth increase, this almost 200 per cent increase, come from?"The Treasurer, in her answer to a question on Tuesday, said,

The costs were to do with construction costs, fish preservation management and other spent costs which had not been included in the previous estimates; they were costs incurred by Actew.

"Other spent costs which had not been included in the previous estimates"—well, that is interesting. I note that the minister actually said:

I can certainly provide the Assembly with a breakdown of those costs; in fact, I think it is a matter that the Assembly is dealing with tomorrow, where that information is also being sought.

It would have been good to have that information now so that we can have a discussion about it based on the facts. But the Treasurer has failed to provide that information. I look forward to it being provided at some stage.

Of course, it does get back to rough estimates. I think there is a view on the part of the government that an estimate is just an estimate—we make it up on the back of an envelope; it is just an estimate. There are estimators. It is a profession where people actually do these costings based on the details given to them. It is not guesswork.

We know the Treasurer thinks that estimates are guesswork, based on her initial interview when she became the Treasurer. She said, "I guess it is just guesswork."Well, it is not guesswork. There are rules, there are formulas and there are many things that guide the costs. There are professionals who do this.

For me, the real question is: when did Actew know and did the Actew board comply with the Territory-owned Corporations Act in their duties to inform their shareholders? For those that were not here at the time, we had a very interesting case called Rhodium some years ago. The shareholders, who have certain duties, did not fulfil their duties.


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