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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3713 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

are many other organisations in the community who feel the same way. I use that only as an example; I do not use it as a massive criticism of ACTCOSS. But, like Mr Osborne's legislation, this tends to be overly prescriptive in the setting up of administrative regimes, which are in effect answerable to government and for which government must remain responsible.

I am sorry, but we cannot support the bill.

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (10.50): The government also does not support this bill, simply because the principal objective of the board of any territory-owned corporation should match the well-defined objectives of that TOC in conducting itself to the best possible advantage of the community of the ACT. Since the corporations are by definition businesses, they need to focus principally on the task of operating effectively and efficiently and maximising sustainable returns to the ACT.

With respect, I think that to introduce other elements, as suggested by Ms Tucker, into this TOC legislation, would be unproductive. For example, requiring a business to, "conduct its operations in accordance with the principles of ecologically sustainable development", while it is a noble concept, is virtually meaningless in the case of a business like ACTTAB.

The second part of the bill seeks to reserve up to three board seats for defined directors, who would not necessarily be approved by the voting shareholders. In other words, up to three directors can be appointed without the agreement of the shareholders or the existing board. I simply note that there are all sorts of arguments about who these stakeholders should be.

Ms Tucker has selected three areas of her own. I am not sure why those have been chosen and why they are appropriate for each particular board covered by the legislation. I note the comments of Richard Humphry, Managing Director of the Australian Stock Exchange, who conducted a review of GBE governance arrangements for the Commonwealth in March of 1997. In that review he made the following comment:

Boards should not be appointed on the basis of representation. A GBE should be concerned about the views or needs of a particular group, and it should establish some consultative or advisory committee to meet that need.

The boards of Actew and Totalcare have seven directors each. In the arrangements proposed by Ms Tucker, nearly half of the board would be nominated by people other than the government of the day. In the case of the subsidiaries of territory-owned corporations, some boards consist of only three directors, so the entire board could effectively be appointed without the approval of shareholders. That is an unfortunate concept.

The views of a number of those TOC heads have been sought. The chairman of the Actew board is responsible for a number of subsidiaries. I quote his comments:

It would be an absurdity if a board of three people in a subsidiary were to comprise the interested persons proposed by Ms Tucker.

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