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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (13 June) . . Page.. 1618 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

Overall, the Government considers that the report is disappointing, relying largely on throw-away comments which reflect the prejudice of individual committee members and lacking much, if any, substantive analysis of issues.

Of the Committee's 23 recommendations, the Government agrees with 10, agrees in principle with a further two recommendations, while only noting eight recommendations and disagreeing with the remaining three recommendations.

One of the noted recommendations-recommendation 8 illustrates the limitation in the approach adopted by the Committee.

That recommendation states that the Government should ensure that ACTEW continues to provide performance information following the establishment of the ACTEW/AGL joint venture, irrespective of whether there is a legislative requirement to do so.

The Committee seems to have neglected the fact that the ACTEW/AGL Partnership Facilitation Act 2000 already has maintained and reinforced ACTEW's pre-existing corporate governance arrangements.

What then is the point of the Committee's recommendation other than to reinforce the well-known cynicism of the Committee's chair about this vitally important joint venture?

Mr Speaker, I would like to refer briefly to two Committee recommendations which the Government has not agreed.

In Recommendation 2 the Committee is critical of the use of consultants and contractors and suggests that there is a developing culture of outsourcing matters which are considered to be too difficult or controversial.

That conclusion is incorrect.

As set out in the Government's response to this recommendation, there are clear public criteria for the use of consultants. The key guiding principle is value for money.

In some instances it is not possible or affordable to have specialist skills within the Government sector. The best approach is to acquire such skills only when necessary for particular tasks. For more significant activities it is prudent to obtain additional independent advice to confirm in-house findings.

The objective is to achieve quality outcomes, not sustain arbitrary levels of government employment.

The other recommendation which the Government does not support is number 23. That recommendation calls for the public disclosure of the private business interests of members of Government Boards.

This recommendation is both unnecessary and unacceptably intrusive. Members of boards are already required to make such disclosures as part of the operations of these boards and the conflict of interest provisions of the Corporations Law also apply.

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