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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (10 March) . . Page.. 530 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

I present a supplementary explanatory memorandum to the Bill.

Mr Speaker, the amendment to the Bill that I have moved proposes that, instead of consulting with the Assembly committee responsible for the scrutiny of public accounts prior to the appointment of directors of Territory owned corporations or their subsidiaries, the voting shareholders shall inform the relevant committee of the names, qualifications and expertise of the directors after they have been appointed. Mr Speaker, this will ensure that members of the Assembly or members of the relevant committee are informed of nominations. Yesterday, comments were made by those opposite with regard to executive government and the importance of taking responsibility. I seem to remember those opposite - Mr Hargreaves, Mr Quinlan and others - saying yesterday that we were elected to government, and therefore we had to take responsibility for government. I think the argument yesterday was: "Shock, horror; you rotten Government; you are trying to share the responsibility here. Go back and be the government you were elected to be". This amendment will ensure that there is transparency. It will ensure that members of the Assembly will know who has been appointed, what their qualifications are, what their experience is, and so on.

Mr Speaker, before, when Mr Quinlan was speaking, I think he was talking about CTEC appointments. He said that somehow the CTEC events grants process has showed how boards can be used by government to abrogate its responsibility. That is simply not the case. Mr Speaker, CTEC appointments, I think, are subject to Assembly consultation already, because it is a statutory authority. So much for that argument! It is simply not the case.

Also, Mr Speaker, in terms of giving out grants, we have had grants organisations - in Mr Stefaniak's area, in health, in all sorts of areas - that, of course, make decisions on who gets grants and who does not get grants. It is not the role of government to second-guess that grants process. In fact, I have often made the point, as we have in Cabinet, that I do not believe that Ministers should get involved in that process. The whole point of having experts - whether it be in the arts, sport, health or, for that matter, events and tourism - to determine who gets a grant and who does not is to have those decisions made at arm's length from government. And that is the way we operate, I have to say, Mr Speaker.

If the Assembly accepts this amendment, we will achieve accountability and we will achieve transparency. At the same time, we will do what those opposite suggested yesterday we should do, and accept that there are responsibilities of executive government. This is one of them, Mr Speaker. It will also ensure that the concerns raised by various high-profile ACT business people who are currently involved in boards are considered and that we get the best possible people for our Territory owned corporations, rather than potentially lose even one or two of those people to a process that is seriously unnecessary.

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