Page 3541 - Week 09 - Thursday, 21 August 2008

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DR FOSKEY: Thank you. I was having trouble hearing myself in that instance.

MR SPEAKER: Order, members! Dr Foskey has the floor. I am taking some detailed instructions here.

DR FOSKEY: I would like to comment on that legal advice. I note that the legal advice itself pointed out that the whole report had not been read. I really feel that that is the whole problem with the Chief Minister’s response. As I remember, he was not even in the chamber when the report was presented, did not hear most of my speech but did what he so often does: go off on one word. As I said to the media this afternoon, methinks the Chief Minister does protest too much. Often, the depth of that protest indicates the concern that he has about the recommendations of the report.

I just want to say that in my opinion the legal advice he received from the Government Solicitor in no way contradicts our report. Our report did not say that the shareholders should give bad directions. That seemed to be the way that the Chief Minister was interpreting the advice. He said that directors are under no obligation to follow shareholders’ directions if the directions are not in the best interests of the company. Exactly. In fact, if the shareholders have directions that are not in the best interests of the company, as seen by the board, then, as the legislation says, the company must be compensated.

But isn’t that the last resort? Don’t the shareholders meanwhile engage in dialogue with the board? If it gets to the extent where the shareholders are requiring the directors to do something that they think is against the best interests of the company, I think that there has been a failure with the dialogue. That is clearly, as I think the report points out, what has been missing—good communication, clear communication. The report was given in the sense of “These are the lessons learned from Rhodium; let’s make sure they do not happen with other territory-owned corporations.”

Legal advice, of course, is generally self-serving. In this case, the Government Solicitor’s advice did not contravene our report. We look forward to hearing what he—or she; it could be a female—has to say when they have read the whole report. (Time expired.)

Chief Minister—Crikey reports

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (9.39): I know the Chief Minister is busy and probably does not get a chance to read all of his emails personally, so I thought I would just update him a bit on a few items that have appeared in that electronic journal of note Crikey over the last couple of months. The first one appeared on 4 June 2008. It reads this way:

The chief minister of the ACT, Jon Stanhope, is out of favour with the federal government over his push for gay legislation. Talk is he was favoured for a diplomatic posting until he ruffled feathers (again) with his pro-gay rights stance. He is now saying publicly he is staying around for the long haul but privately scurrying for an assignment that will allow him to leave ACT politics with dignity. ACT Labor insiders concede his government is on the nose and very likely to lose the next election in November.

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