Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 23 August 2018) . . Page.. 3512 ..
Icon Water is a commercial entity which operates at arms-length from the government under the terms of the Territory-owned Corporations Act. The Leader of the Opposition is wrong in the assertion in his speech earlier. Icon Water is not a government agency as the act makes clear in stating:
(1) A territory-owned corporation or subsidiary is not, only because of its status as a territory-owned corporation or subsidiary—
(a) the Territory; or
(b) a representative of the Territory; or
(c) a government entity under the Legislation Act,
So that is very clear. That is in legislation. That is the basis on which Icon Water operates.
In response to prior requests for the public release of these documents, Icon Water has consulted with the other commercial parties to the contracts and advised the government that sections of them are commercial in confidence. Icon Water has, however, published a significant amount of information about the contracts on their website, including as much of the documents that they believe could be released without infringing on commercial confidentiality.
These service contracts are set to expire in 2023. Ahead of this date Icon Water has advised the government that it will assess its ongoing service requirements and options and conduct market sounding on the future provision of the services currently delivered under these contracts. There is a real risk that Icon Water will not be able to negotiate for competitive future contracts that get the best deal for Canberra consumers if the commercial detail of their current arrangements is fully available in the market.
Icon Water also has an obligation to abide by the confidentiality of its commercial partners. After all, these contracts do not just reflect on the commercial arrangements between Icon Water and ActewAGL but also potentially contain information relevant to ActewAGL’s other contractual arrangements that are completely unrelated to Icon Water.
More generally, members in this place should reflect upon the appropriateness of using standing order 213A to circumvent the ACT’s freedom of information laws just because they do not like the outcome. The documents being requested today have been the subject of an FOI request. That request was responded to and as much of the documents as could be released without compromising commercial confidentiality has already been released. This comes on top of Icon Water also making this material available to all Canberrans via the company’s website and not just providing them directly to the FOI applicant.
We voted in this place to provide the strongest and most transparent freedom of information laws in the country. We have introduced these laws because we understand and support the value of transparency in holding government agencies