Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 22 August 2017) . . Page.. 3165 ..
This does not mean impacting the fiduciary duties of the board members. But shareholders have the right, and indeed are obligated, to ensure that the board is operating in an appropriate manner. The signing of this $27 million contract, perhaps inflated by $22 or $23 million, is an indication that to date either the board or the shareholders have not been exercising due governance over the organisation.
MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism and Major Events) (6.35): I thank both Ms Le Couteur and Mr Coe for their contributions, interesting as they were in conflating levels of shareholder activity and active engagement in the day-to-day running of territory-owned corporations. Perhaps they came to the debate from slightly different perspectives, but it was an interesting conflation of issues nevertheless.
I do agree with the Leader of the Opposition that Icon Water is indeed a territory-owned, unlisted public company which undertakes two primary activities: the delivery of water, sewerage and associated services; and managing energy investments. It is important to note that as an independent corporation Icon Water is subject to the Corporations Act 2001, commonwealth legislation, as well as additional accountability requirements under the territory’s own Territory-owned Corporations Act 1990.
Icon Water’s main objectives are, as previous speakers have indicated, operating at least as efficiently as any other comparable business; maximising the sustainable return to the territory; and focusing on its social, environmental and economic responsibilities. Icon Water Limited will pursue these strategic objectives relating to its customers, its people, its asset management and its financial management.
It is always going to be the case in politics that where there is any government or territory-owned corporation there will be a strong desire from those in the political combat day to day to want to draw shareholder ministers into either chief executive officer responsibilities or board responsibilities. The Corporations Act and the Territory-owned Corporations Act set out some very clear legal and practical distinctions between the roles of shareholder ministers, governing boards and executive staff within organisations. Over the course of this debate, if literally interpreted, the two previous speakers would require shareholder ministers to act as chief executive and board at various points.
Mr Coe: Captain-coach.
MR BARR: Indeed, the old captain-coach analogy. I do not think that that is the best way to run territory-owned corporations, but I do acknowledge the extreme difficulty with partial privatisations such as we are in. Ms Le Couteur made references to various proportions of shareholdings that Minister Gentleman and I may or may not have, and made big assumptions about the level of respective partners’ potential investments in new ventures. Their assumption is equal partnership, it would seem, judging by what she has said. That may or may not be the case in every new investment that ActewAGL will make.