Page 1890 - Week 05 - Thursday, 5 May 2011

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That the report be noted.

I would like to speak very briefly. Of course, the first thing that I would like to do is to thank the secretariat and Andrea Cullen, who I note for the first time in the Assembly is now Dr Cullen. We are all very proud of her. We were also ably assisted by Lesley Irvine and Lydia Chung. I would also like to thank my fellow committee members, Mr Smyth and Mr Hargreaves.

We made a total of 34 recommendations. I will not go through all of them but I will just go through some of the themes in them. I guess the first theme in there was ESD. Our first three recommendations deal with ESD. Given the nature of the public accounts committee rather than the environment committee, we are not talking necessarily about the substantive issues.

We are still, unfortunately, in the situation that ESD reporting in the annual reports is not as good as it should be. While there are a lot of things needed, obviously, to achieve good ESD outcomes, if we cannot get the reporting right, it will be very hard for us to tell what direction we are even going in. This has been an ongoing theme for PAC. I fear it may continue to be an ongoing thing into the future. We really have to get this working better.

Another ongoing theme—again, it is very relevant to PAC’s role—is in our next three recommendations when we talk about performance reporting. Again, if the Assembly and the wider ACT community are to be adequately informed as to what the government is doing and how the government is using the ACT community’s scarce resources, it needs to have good performance reporting. In some cases it does not have this. One of the problems is that sometimes the indicators are meaningless. In other cases they change them, they do not explain why and we end up with lots of discontinuities in data which are really unnecessary. There are other recommendations apart from these early ones that deal with performance and ESD—recommendation 11, recommendation 18 and recommendation 23. They are all reporting ones.

Another theme, which we have not had in the past, is about winding up organisations. Recommendations 30 to 34 all deal with wind-ups. Recommendation 30 is particularly interesting, or disturbing. It deals with the wind-up of Rhodium Asset Solutions. It appears that we have been keeping Rhodium going as a going concern for a very long time because we are trying to recover some money which is owed to the ACT government. Obviously recovering money owed to the ACT government is a good thing, but what our recommendation says is that the ACT government consider the cost-benefit to the territory in continuing to pursue the recovery of Rhodium Asset Solutions Ltd’s outstanding debts.

What we are basically saying is that, if it costs you a lot more to recover a debt than the value of the debt, there has to come a time when you have to say, “No, we just can’t keep on doing it.” So we have asked the Treasurer to inform the Assembly in 12 months time as to the progress of winding up Rhodium. We are quite concerned that the costs of keeping Rhodium going seem out of proportion to the benefit, if any, that we get from keeping Rhodium going.

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