Page 3442 - Week 09 - Thursday, 21 August 2008
committee. Therefore I have familiarity with the work of the committee up to the point where I left. I wish to share some perspective with the Assembly.
I listened intently to what the Chief Minister just said. There are issues that have been raised in my mind in relation to this report. The recommendations are on the light side, in my view.
I do subscribe to the view about director responsibility. Based on probably 30 years of my being involved with corporations and the like, that does not seem to attract sufficient focus in this report. I know there are complexities in terms of directors, but for all intents and purposes the responsibilities of the directors are consistent with the Corporations Law. I am yet to think of a single corporate collapse in Australia where the receiver and manager or the liquidator have said, “This is the shareholders’ fault.” It normally rests with the directors.
Mr Stanhope: Absolutely.
MR MULCAHY: Complexity under this system—
Mr Stanhope: Except when politics is involved.
MR SPEAKER: Order, members, please!
MR MULCAHY: Aside from that issue, the complexity in this issue is the fact that you have trustee shareholders or shareholders holding a share in trust on behalf of the ACT people. When those people are ministers, you run into the other issue of ministerial accountability, with a minister—in this case the Treasurer, from memory—being responsible in this place to deal with matters that are raised in relation to that corporation.
I was amazed to see in the index that there was no mention of the board at all. It is addressed in part in different areas but it is quite extraordinary, given the events, that it is dealt with in such a light fashion.
Mr Stanhope: They are not standing for election, Mr Mulcahy.
MR MULCAHY: That could be the reason, and it could be lack of understanding of the Corporations Law. I do not know if Mr Smyth mentioned the one on page 39, because I was distracted a bit when he spoke. Point 4.30 says:
The Committee believes that the shareholders of Rhodium failed in their duty. They failed to give guidance to the Board in what was expected of it and sent mixed messages about Rhodium’s future.
That is a pretty strong statement. I am not sure that the shareholders in fact are the ones who have the duty to the board. There is certainly scope for the shareholders to issue directions, as is pointed out earlier in the report. And there was certainly an issue that emerged about mixed messages coming from the former Treasurer and the current Deputy Chief Minister as shareholders.