Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (20 April) . . Page.. 975 ..
MS CARNELL (continuing):
The role of the board is to minimise costs to the corporation and maximise outcomes. The board of ACTEW made that decision. That decision was disseminated from the chief executive of ACTEW, John Mackay, to staff in March. It seems that those opposite, again, are just behind the game. They simply do not know what is happening and are really upset that no-one will talk to them.
MR CORBELL: I ask a supplementary question. Chief Minister, as a shareholder of ACTEW as well as the responsible Minister, are you concerned that ACTEW, as a publicly owned corporation, has engaged ABN AMRO with public funds without any tender process, particularly when the ACT Government's own guidelines require open tender for any contract worth more than $50,000? How can the Government be confident and how can you as a shareholder be confident that the quarter of a million dollars paid directly by ACTEW to ABN AMRO is the cheapest price when no tender process was conducted?
MS CARNELL: ACTEW are not required to enter into tender projects. They are not bound by the same rules on these sorts of things as the Government. We have boards to run corporations. We have Territory owned corporations legislation which sets up the roles and responsibilities of the boards. The board's role is to run the corporation. Mr Corbell said that it was public money. No. Dividends are public money. The money that is involved in the running of ACTEW is ACTEW's money until it becomes profit and comes back to the ACT. Under the Corporations Law, it is quite clear. The board has every right to make those decisions. Mr Service has made it clear that they made that decision based upon what the board believed was the best outcome for the organisation. They have every right - in fact, not a right; they have a responsibility - to do just that.
MR BERRY: My question is to the Chief Minister. Minister, you will recall, I am sure, that in December 1997 the then newly announced chief executive of ACTEW, John Mackay, pledged himself to saving the corporation from a merger, which he said would be "a crying shame". In the same comments Mr Mackay indicated that he was aware of the challenges facing ACTEW by saying:
Our task becomes doubly challenging, I guess, in terms of countering the bids by competitors to move into our market.
Mr Mackay went on to say he had "absolutely no doubt" that ACTEW could survive in its own right. Since Mr Mackay seemed to think that an ACTEW merger was "a crying shame" and that he was clearly aware of the challenges facing the organisation, is Mr Mackay now advocating a merger simply to suit the Chief Minister's agenda to sell down by stealth?
MS CARNELL: It is not very stealthy, is it? Sell down by stealth, going out and doing - - -
Mr Stanhope: That is what it is. It is a sell down.