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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 4 Hansard (18 April) . . Page.. 1058 ..

Report on Consultation with Assembly Committees

MR WOOD (11.47): Mr Speaker, I present Report No. 13 of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts entitled "Report on Consultation with Assembly Committees on Appointments to Territory Owned Corporations". I move:

That the report be noted.

This report recommends that appointments to the boards of Territory-owned corporations be treated in the same way as statutory appointments; that is, that the Minister, when making such an appointment, be required to consult with the relevant Assembly committee before making the appointment and that the Minister have regard to any recommendation made by an Assembly committee following consultation. Appointments to the boards of Territory-owned corporations are made by Ministers as the voting shareholders. Such appointments are not subject to the Statutory Appointments Act, although, with a recent appointment to the board of ACTEW, the Minister did inform the committee of the intention to make the appointment. The principles underlying the Statutory Appointments Act apply with equal force to appointments to Territory-owned corporations, and the committee has recommended that the Act be amended accordingly.

MS TUCKER (11.48): Consultation with Assembly committees is obviously extremely important when we are looking at Territory-owned corporations, as it is for other organisations. The issue of accountability of Territory-owned corporations is very important, and I would like to speak in support of the recommendation in this report. I think it is important that these accountability and consultation mechanisms are made explicit in legislation. It may be true that the Minister consulted the relevant committee about the make-up of the ACTEW board; but, as the report says, there was no statutory mechanism for the committee or any other member to question any appointment to the board. I would like to say that, to complement this recommendation, in the near future the Greens will be presenting a Bill to amend the Territory Owned Corporations Act which will set up a mechanism for a staff representative and someone representing consumer or social interests to be appointed to the board. This is something that we tried with the board of ACTEW at the time of corporatisation; but, unfortunately, we did not receive the support of our colleagues on the crossbenches at that time. The Greens believe, however, that it is important that these mechanisms about who is appointed to boards and how the appointments are made are made explicit and spelt out in legislation.

We are also wanting to expand the principal objective of corporations to include the displaying of a sense of social responsibility and a commitment to working within ecological sustainability principles. If we are serious about integrating social, environmental and economic concerns at all levels of government, then making these goals explicit is a very important first step and provides a strong basis for policy and action which meet these objectives. I hope that the Government responds favourably to this particular recommendation put forward by the Public Accounts Committee.

Debate (on motion by Mr Hird) adjourned.

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