Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 23 August 2018) . . Page.. 3514 ..
and there are efficiencies in using the Ombudsman if we can. For the purposes of today we are happy for this to be tested by the independent arbiter. That is exactly what that role is for.
I think there is an interesting whole other discussion around the nature of ownership of these entities. Mr Coe has made the point that Icon Water is a wholly owned government asset, but ActewAGL is no longer wholly government owned. That brings in these commercial-in-confidence questions. My understanding is that Icon’s reluctance to release these documents is because it will impact on commercial matters for ActewAGL. That can be debated, but that is what has happened as a result of the moves to move ACTEW away from being wholly owned by the government.
The community has a perception that ACTEW remains wholly owned by the government. If you ask most people who have been around Canberra who have been here a while they still think of it as a government entity. In fact, it has a very different agenda now; it has a corporate agenda as part of that partnership with AGL. That brings a different filter onto the way they view the world. That is muddying some of the questions and information Mr Coe is seeking here. Nonetheless, we are happy to support the motion today.
MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (11.10), in reply: I appreciate the support of all members in this place for the provision of 213A to be enacted here with regard to these two agreements. I want to touch on something Mr Rattenbury just mentioned with regard to the complex or sensitive nature of the arrangements with ActewAGL. That is why this particular contract is quite significant. Icon Water has given a preferred tenderer status to ActewAGL to the tune of $25 million a year as this contract. But I wonder whether the other partner of ActewAGL is also giving special contracts to the joint venture.
If Icon Water half owns ActewAGL and they are in part propping up the operation through these contracts, that is potentially giving equity to the other shareholder of ActewAGL. So there are all sorts of complications here.
Whilst most Canberrans have some sort of affinity with ActewAGL, the complex arrangement with regard to its ownership and governance means that it is not always as simple as we might like it to be. When you have Icon Water putting large amounts of money into ActewAGL it begs the question whether the other joint venture partner is treating that joint venture in the same way. If not, how can we be sure we are getting value for money? How can we be sure that some of this money is not going in profit to the other joint venture partner? Some real questions have to be explored at a later date because they are a little tangential to the basic request for these agreements to be published.
Mr Barr all but accused me of trying to circumvent the FOI laws. Well, we are the legislators. If Mr Barr would prefer that I moved an amendment to the FOI act that these agreements be published, it is still going to come to this chamber for a vote; it is still going to be a will of the legislators. To say that a vote in a parliament is somehow circumventing the law is a bit of a stretch. As Mr Rattenbury said, 213A is there for a