Page 3177 - Week 10 - Thursday, 15 August 2013
MR COE (Ginninderra) (7.39): I will start by saying that I will not be needing my second 10 for this line item. In fact, I will go as far as saying that I have got nothing further to add to the questions I put in the estimates committee.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Proposed expenditure—Part 1.19—ACTEW Corporation—$10,615,000 (net cost of outputs), totalling $10,615,000.
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (7.41): The issues of ACTEW have been canvassed well over the course of the year, but on behalf of the opposition I think there are still concerns there. We seem to get conflicting numbers; we never seem to get to the bottom of the hole, as it were, at the base of the dam. We, as an opposition, are still convinced that a full audit of ACTEW, probably by someone like the Auditor-General, is worth having.
Page 36 of the estimates report contains recommendation 22. The recommendation asks for detail about the various elements of the dam and the cost. It is the cost of the dam and where it is going that concern us. The minister said that the difference between the $363 million number and the over $400 million number was a result of the flood. I do not think it is clear at all that that is the case. If the minister can detail what the $42-odd million difference is, and if he wants to attribute it all to the flood events, I would be very interested in his explanation of that.
What we have seen throughout the course of the last 12 or so months is a number of events that do raise some concern. First and foremost, we had the issue of the incorrect amounts of the CEO’s pay tabled in an official document given to the ministers, the shareholders, and then sent on to this Assembly. Of course the chairman of the board lost his position over that.
We had the whole of the ICRC affair—the inquiry into the water and sewerage rates and what they would be. Initially, the determination said that there would be a large increase, $235-odd a year. That was wound back significantly when ACTEW presented evidence to the ICRC, and the ICRC had to change their draft determination. When you have the head of the ICRC using the word “insolvent” in regard to a huge asset that the people of the ACT own, the alarm bells should be ringing.
We have serious concerns about the numbers when it comes to the dam. The initial cost was touted at some $145 million. But I think it is quite clear that the government knew before the election that that was not the case, that it was in fact going to cost more. People have a right to ask: why is a dam that started at $145 million ending up at more than $400 million? Again, I do not think those questions have been answered adequately, particularly in regard to when the government knew and what the government did. Indeed, when did the shareholders know and what did the shareholders do?
We have been calling for some time for a full audit, a full inquiry, by the Auditor-General. There is a partial audit underway at this stage. The ministers—who initially,