Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 15 Sept 2009) . . Page.. 3995 ..
However, the effectiveness of the application of these governance principles was constrained by absence of formalised policies and procedures, and deficiencies in financial reporting. Further, the absence of clear directions by the ACT Government as Shareholders has created uncertainty and made it difficult for the Board to develop and implement any long-term strategic directions to drive Rhodium in achieving its business objectives.
That is the Rhodium legacy of our Chief Minister. That is the indictment of what he understands to be good management of territory-owned corporations and statutory authorities.
What did he say about statutory authorities? What do we know of what the Chief Minister understands about statutory authorities? Well, that is quite easy. He said on the Alex Sloan program on 3 September just after 9 o’clock:
This is why it is an independent statutory authority. We have created it to make these sorts of decisions on behalf of the government because it requires a range of skills and expertise that aren’t necessarily vested in government. That is why we do it this way.
Well, apparently that is not the way you do it at EPIC, because EPIC, like Rhodium, languished for five years because they had submitted a business plan to the government and the government did not do their bit, which was simply to reject or endorse the plan or to tell the EPIC board exactly what they wanted. So we have seen it in Rhodium; we have seen it in Epic. Now we have the debacle that is the costing of the new dam, where the final bill is at least $360 million to the ACT taxpayer, but the reality is that we do not know what the final cost will be. The reality is that the shareholders do not know because they have not asked the appropriate questions.
We know from today’s answers in question time that the Treasurer certainly knew that the cost had blown out before the time the Chief Minister has admitted that he first knew. He was kept in the dark. They are his words: “I was kept in the dark by the board.” Well, that is outrageous. He is a shareholder, and remember that these are special shareholders. These are not your ordinary citizens who own shares in a company. They are acting on behalf of the owners—the taxpayers of the ACT—they are acting in their interests. These are very, very special shareholders. There are only two of them, and to have the senior shareholder, the Chief Minister, say that he was kept in the dark is outrageous. But we know from the Treasurer that they were not kept in the dark, because there were minutes. We now know that the Treasurer knew in late August that the costs had blown out and what they might be, but apparently the Chief Minister did not know it.
Either the Chief Minister is not doing his job or he actually was not kept in the dark. Only the Chief Minister can tell us that. He can down and either admit that he was inept, or he can come down and admit that he was not kept in the dark. That is a problem for all of us. This is a significant piece of infrastructure. The whole saga of the dam is quite interesting. We said in 2004 that we needed a new dam. The Chief Minister said, “No, we don’t need a new dam. We won’t need a new dam for 20 years, and we might not need a dam ever, because I’m doing such a good job of managing the water resources that belong to the ACT.” Two years later, “We need a dam,” so