Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 17 Sept 2009) . . Page.. 4181 ..
MR SPEAKER: Mr Smyth?
MR SMYTH: A supplementary, thank you, Mr Speaker. Treasurer, what directions will you and the other shareholder be making under the Territory-owned Corporations Act to Actew to ensure better project management, better coordination of services, better integration and better financial management?
MS GALLAGHER: In relation to the enlarged Cotter Dam project? None.
MS HUNTER: Supplementary question.
MR SPEAKER: Ms Hunter.
MS HUNTER: Thank you, Mr Speaker. What processes will the government put in place to ensure that there is more information made available about the nature and accuracy of the cost estimates provided to the public for major infrastructure projects?
MS GALLAGHER: Thank you, Mr Speaker. I thank Ms Hunter for the supplementary question. Information will be provided to the Assembly in accordance with the resolution of the Assembly of yesterday.
If your question is more general around how we provide that, I think when you go back and you have a look—and I think Mr Rattenbury picked up on this in his media comments on the day—the original cost estimates provided dating back to April 2005, July 2007, indeed April 2008 and in indeed pretty much every public comment throughout that process leading up to the announcement in late August of the finalised costs, there were always significant caveats put on those costs around potentials for increases to the cost estimate at the time.
I am interested, and I am happy to take advice from the Assembly if they believe there are better ways to estimate the final cost prior to undertaking all the detailed work that had to be undertaken to get to that end point. I think it is a very difficult ask of any organisation, of any business, to actually say, before you actually understand exactly the process that needs to be undertaken and the environment you are working in and the costs of the environmental remediation measures that need to be put in place because of this, that you need to understand that prior to actually doing the work.
It is an incredibly difficult ask to have of anybody. I think the chief executive and the chair of Actew Corporation were very clear in every public statement, including every appearance at estimates and public accounts committees, that there were expected to be significant cost increases as this work was undertaken and finalised.
MR DOSZPOT: My question is to the Treasurer, and it relates to the briefings you, as shareholder of Actew Corporation, received from Actew, Treasury or any other government agency in relation to the enlargement of Cotter Dam. Treasurer, in question time on Tuesday you said: