Page 3439 - Week 09 - Thursday, 21 August 2008

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Leader of the Opposition regarding the report, that we do give some calm consideration to it. I have only looked at the report very briefly, but it is interesting to go to the chapter headed “The Rhodium shareholders’ and read the opening paragraphs which, it appears to me, have been completely ignored as the chapter proceeds. I will just read the first few paragraphs:

One comment by the Auditor-General regarding the role of the shareholders in Rhodium gained particular focus in submissions at the committee’s hearings. In a section considering Rhodium’s strategic direction the Report reads—

this is the Auditor-General’s report—

Audit considers that the uncertainty of Rhodium’s future, and a lack of clear directions for the shareholders, made it difficult for the Board to provide and commit to appropriate long-term business strategies to guide Rhodium in achieving the best outcome for the shareholders.

The public accounts committee has taken that particular recommendation. Essentially, that recommendation is the whole and sole purpose for the public accounts committee entertaining this inquiry; it is what the entire report was about. It is a blatantly political exercise. It is interesting, isn’t it, that the inquiry was commissioned two years ago. Isn’t it interesting that the committee has taken two years to actually investigate and prepare this and brings down a report focused on this recommendation of the Auditor-General’s report in the last sitting week of the Assembly, a few weeks out from an election?

I wonder at the coincidence of that. I think it gives some real insight or understanding as to why this inquiry was undertaken, why it took two years to produce the report and why it was brought down eight weeks out from an election. It was, of course, so that the findings of the auditor could be distorted in the way that they have been distorted so that both the Greens and the Liberal Party, opponents of the Labor Party in an election in eight weeks time, could grandstand in the particularly grubby political way that they have this morning.

It is informative then to go on to read the next paragraph following that recommendation from the auditor. This is a comment by the public accounts committee on the Auditor-General’s report:

This comment raised concern at ACTEW—

another territory-owned corporation—

who sought legal advice—

I think from Mallesons, one of Australia’s leading legal firms—

to clarify the responsibility of TOC shareholders. That legal advice stated that:

It is clearly established that it is the directors of a corporation formed under the Corporations Act who are responsible for setting the strategic direction of the corporation, and not its shareholders … it would be completely wrong to suggest that voting shareholders bear any responsibility—

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