Page 1346 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 9 April 2013
MR SESELJA: Chief Minister, is it appropriate that shareholders have no role in approving the managing director’s salary?
MS GALLAGHER: Again I think this goes to how we expect ACTEW Corporation to run and operate. I think there is a genuine discussion that will be had. It has been highlighted in the ICRC report; it has been highlighted by the recent issue around remuneration. That deserves some public discussion and indeed some Assembly discussion, which we would welcome.
I have to say that I was comfortable with the way this issue was being dealt with by the board. I think it is not, as I said, an unreasonable expectation that the board, which has the employment relationship with the chief executive officer, the managing director in this case, actually, as the employer, as the person that the chief executive is answerable to, makes those arrangements. The shareholders had sought information about the remuneration arrangements. Indeed, the shareholder—I as Treasurer—had introduced legislation that made sure that that remuneration package was transparent, all supported by members in this place. So I think we had taken reasonable steps.
I must say that I think we do have some difficulty—I personally have some difficulty—with politicians determining employees’ salaries. That is not something we do in any other area of government business. Indeed, our own salaries and wages are done by the Remuneration Tribunal, as are a whole range of other ACT government employees—directors-general, statutory office holders. I do not want to be in the position—I do not think shareholders should be in the position where they negotiate and finalise employment arrangements. But in terms of government and how ACTEW operates, I think that is the subject of further consideration by the shareholders.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Seselja.
MR SESELJA: Has government’s decision in 2004-05 to apparently forgo the ability to approve the managing director’s remuneration led to the current issues regarding the managing director’s salary?
MS GALLAGHER: The shareholders have been very clear right throughout our relationship with ACTEW—and this covers the period that I certainly can speak of as a shareholder with former Chief Minister Stanhope and with the current Treasurer, Andrew Barr—we have had expectations that there be independent analysis of the remuneration arrangements, that the board manages those issues and that it is in line with industry standards. They are the criteria that predated 2004; they are the criteria that exist now.
ACTEW Corporation Ltd—hospitality
MR COE: My question is to the Chief Minister as a shareholder in ACTEW. Chief Minister, have the shareholders ever been advised of the details of the corporate hospitality being undertaken by ACTEW or ActewAGL? If so, do you consider it to be appropriate use of money raised from ratepayers? If not, why not?