Page 45 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 12 February 2008
but to issues in relation to indeed changes in its capacity to perhaps expand its operations, and there are issues in relation to its future, its past and indeed just the complexity of negotiations around an appropriate price. But the process proceeds. There is some difficulty in me being a little too fulsome in a public forum around some of the issues that are central to the negotiations. I do not think it would be appropriate, because of the commercial sensitivity of those negotiations, for me to go into, “Well, this particular issue in relation to Rhodium is impacting positively in negotiations and this particular issue is impacting negatively.” We are in detailed, complex negotiations with a possible purchaser for Rhodium and it would not be helpful or appropriate for me, through the Assembly, to say or even to give the impression that there were issues that might be impacting on those negotiations and their successful conclusion. But at this stage, Mr Mulcahy, negotiations continue.
Mr Mulcahy: Till when, though?
MR STANHOPE: Till the job is done, essentially. It is an issue for us. We are very anxious to bring this to a conclusion. I would be more than happy, Mr Mulcahy, to the extent that we are able to provide more information through a briefing for that to be provided.
MR MULCAHY: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Chief Minister, what responsibility do you take for the poor performance of Rhodium and the associated difficulty with the sale of this asset?
MR STANHOPE: In a direct sense, none. Rhodium was managed by an independent statutory board subject to the Corporations Act. In relation to all statutory bodies that my government has either created or has a relationship with, I have taken—from the outset and in my period as Chief Minister—a very rigid approach to non-interference in certainly the statutory or corporate obligations of any of our corporations.
I do not believe it is appropriate for ministers to be involved in the day-to-day operations of a statutory corporation or a government-owned corporation. It would probably be in breach of the Corporations Act to start with and it would be inappropriate. We, governments, create statutory corporations such as Actew, ACTTAB and Rhodium for the very reason that we believe that they perform a function better performed by a corporation. We appoint to the board of those corporations people we believe have the requisite and necessary skills to manage a business or a corporation. I do not pretend to have those skills.
I am rigorous in not interfering in the day-to-day management of any of our corporations. I have a statutory obligation as a shareholder. I discuss and table in this place statements of corporate intent which express the government’s expectations. In the context of management of and responsibility for any corporation, my responsibilities, other than those invested in me as a result of other legislation, are restricted to those functions.
I do not manage any of our corporations. I do not get involved in any decisions taken by any of our corporations. I do not get involved in the management, personnel or staff of any of our corporations, and nor should I. Indeed, the advice I have is that I would be in breach of the corporations legislation if I sought to do so.