Page 3166 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 22 August 2017

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I think the commentary that, through Icon Water then through ActewAGL and to a third commercial entity, the reach of Icon’s shareholder ministers goes over the top of boards, chief executives, joint venture boards and then new venture boards overstates the capacity and in fact the right and proper role of shareholder ministers in the context of Icon Water. In many regards it would be a simpler and smoother process if entities were either 100 per cent government owned or 100 per cent privately owned. That would remove the ambiguity that we see in this sort of debate. However, Madam Speaker, in its wisdom, the Assembly of the late 1990s and the Carnell government at that time sought a political compromise that involved this situation we have now, where we are a joint venture partner with a number of other entities.

On the other side of the equation, in the context of the issues that we have been debating here, on the distribution side and the retail side we have different partners: in retail, AGL; in distribution, China State Grid and Singapore Power, who hold shareholdings in the ACT electricity distribution network. So these things are much more complex than the simplified statements we have heard from those who have contributed in the debate to date.

Mr Coe continues to make assertions about shared services contracts and the value thereof that are hotly contested by the board and management of Icon Water. I do not think he would want to make the assertions that were made in this place outside of this place, because they border on the defamatory. You have just accused the Icon Water board, going back over a period of time—not the current board but previous boards—of effectively entering into some sort of corrupt contractual arrangement. That is what you have effectively alleged.

Mr Coe: No, I am saying it is bad value for money.

MR BARR: On what basis do you say that, when all of the—

Mr Coe: Look at how much each of your agencies pays.

MADAM SPEAKER: Mr Coe, you were heard in peace.

MR BARR: But the point has been made ad nauseam through all of the hearings that we are talking about different things. You are not comparing the same services. That point has been made ad nauseam. Do not take my word for that; take the word of the ICRC, who we as an Assembly commissioned to independently assess every single element of Icon Water’s expenditure. It is all regulated. It all has to be approved by an independent regulator. So the conspiracy now grows larger and you are suggesting that the regulator is somehow in on allowing expenditure that is not efficient.

Mr Coe: That is exactly right.

MR BARR: That is the conspiracy now, is it? That is what you are alleging: that the regulator is also in on this alleged conspiracy? That is where we have got to in the fantasy world of the Leader of the Opposition. The issues that he has raised are, as I say, hotly contested. They are not facts; they are allegations made by Alistair Coe and they have just that standard: allegations made by Alistair Coe.

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