Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 19 August 2009) . . Page.. 3297 ..
board or a very small number of public servants in cases of larger boards. I instance here the structure of the Corporations Board prior to 1 July 2009. In that context, that was a very sensible and worthwhile decision. On the other hand, there is no argument in favour of appointing a large number of public servants to this board. It is self-evident that such a course is in direct conflict with the purpose for which the separate entity has been established; hence the first purpose with my bill.
The second purpose is to require that no public servant who is appointed to a board shall be either the chair or the deputy chair of that board. This follows directly from the consideration of the role of public servants on the board. They will be appointed in situations where appropriate and where direct links between the bureaucracy and the entity are beneficial. They will not be appointed on the same basis as are the other members of the board.
These other members will be selected because they bring a skill in one or more areas, whether that is in the area of interest of the entity, the management of organisations, financial matters, legal matters, particular commercial matters or other relevant skills. Clearly, therefore, the selection of the board members from outside the bureaucracy will encompass consideration of people who bring skills in managing at a broad level.
Let me emphasise this principle. If the government has made a decision to establish a separate entity to manage a particular function, the logical extension of that argument is that people from outside the bureaucracy should be appointed to manage that entity.
This brings us to the antics of the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation with respect to the board of the Exhibition Park Corporation. The minister clearly wants to build the empire that is under his direct control; hence he devised the spurious argument that certain entities should be brought together in the name of microeconomic reform. He even claimed that his proposal would save $50,000 each year.
It almost defies description to see how the activities undertaken at EPIC can be considered to be equivalent of, or even similar to, those conducted at Canberra stadium, Manuka oval or Stromlo forest park. Nevertheless, that was the objective being pursued by this minister.
The bill he introduced in March this year to achieve this set out his arguments. To any reasonable person, they were, at best, very weak arguments but that is his responsibility as he seeks to build the base from which he can launch his leadership bid for the Labor Party in this Assembly
When this bill was debated on budget day in May, the opposition argued against it, not, as the Minister claimed, for opposition’s sake but for very sound reasons: the functions of the corporation continue to warrant being performed by a territory authority; the current arrangements had served the ACT and region extremely well; and the current board had been performing a sterling and very successful job while dealing with a government that could not make a decent decision about the future of EPIC.