Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 February 2010) . . Page.. 440 ..
MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (10.31): This matter of privilege that has been raised by Mrs Dunne is only in regard to statements made by Mr Sullivan, Managing Director of Actew Corporation, in an estimates hearing last May.
It appears on the surface that Mr Sullivan failed to provide information to the estimates committee about the final costs of the Murrumbidgee to Googong project and that he answered questions in such a way as to indicate that the final costs of the Murrumbidgee to Googong project had not yet been finalised or signed off. This appears, from the evidence revealed so far, to be misleading, as the Actew board had indeed signed off on the TOC in the entire final project costs. As we know, and as has been reported today, on 6 May 2009 an Actew Corporation decision paper stated:
The TOC has been approved by the BWI Alliance Project management team and the Alliance Leadership Group.
The TOC was $116.748 million and the total project costs are $149.793 million. On 13 May 2009 an Actew board decision was made to approve a total budget of $149.8 million for the project implementation, inclusive of the quality pool. The board also delegated and authorised Actew’s managing director to approve expenditure to an upper limit of $149.8 million for the implementation of the Murrumbidgee to Googong project.
So five days before he attended the estimates hearing, Mr Sullivan had been authorised to go ahead and spend up to $149.8 million for the project. I would suggest that this is a serious milestone for any managing director and I do find it hard to believe that Mr Sullivan had forgotten that the budget had been approved and authorised. Mr Sullivan was remiss in failing to mention that the final costs for the pipeline had been approved. As I have stated, on the surface these statements appear to be false. He said:
The Murrumbidgee to Googong pipeline is currently under consideration by the board. While we have got a draft TOC, it has got some process to go through before it is an agreed TOC.
This is five days after the board had approved the budget for the project. Not revealing the final cost is one thing, but making statements that he knew not to be true, where there was no reason to make these statements, is quite another.
Perhaps even more concerning is the rationale that Mr Sullivan gave to the public accounts committee last week for not telling the estimates committee about the final costs for the project. In response to a question about why he did not tell the estimates committee about the costs being signed off, he said:
So we decided there would be no release of the fact of the TOC on the Murrumbidgee to Googong transfer until we had resolved the full TOC issues between the water security projects.
In fact, all that needed to be said was that the board had approved the TOC and the final costs, that the shareholders were soon to be advised, but that at the time, on 18 May 2009, Mr Sullivan was unable to reveal the exact figure. It is bemusing as to why Mr Sullivan would have approached the committee hearing in this way.