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Greens block ACTEW salary audit

Shane Rattenbury.

Shane Rattenbury.

The ACT Greens have blocked a move to have the $855,000 salary of Canberra's water chief investigated by the Auditor-General.

Despite describing the salary of Mark Sullivan as ''obscene'', the Greens sole MLA, Shane Rattenbury, joined with his Labor government partners on Wednesday to defeat an opposition move to ask Auditor-General Maxine Cooper to audit the processes surrounding the ACTEW managing director's wages.

Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson reacted angrily to the defeat of his private member's motion, accusing the Greens minister of lacking ''integrity'' and ''credibility'', and asking the government what it had to hide.

The opposition's motion demanded a full investigation of Canberra's water utility that probed the $855,000 salary of managing director Mark Sullivan and the $409 million cost of the Cotter Dam.

Mr Hanson also called for a review of the water utility's sponsorship programs and its 50 per cent stake in electricity retailer ActewAGL.

But the government moved amendments that blocked the Liberals' proposal and continued its own inquiry into ACTEW, including how the water utility under-reported Mr Sullivan's salary by $234,000.

Treasurer Andrew Barr said on Wednesday it was not necessary ''to jump to that step'' of a performance audit when several investigations into ACTEW were already under way that covered questions raised by the opposition. Mr Barr said the lines of inquiry included next Monday's special meeting of shareholders with ACTEW's board and the Independent Community and Regulatory Commission's recent report on water prices that raised the issue of governance in ACTEW.

The Treasurer said the Auditor-General had also already proposed an investigation of the governance and administrative arrangements for the review of ACT water and sewerage prices.

''There are a number of different steps in this process and they need to be gone through one step at a time,'' he said.

The government's amendments promise a report back to the Assembly on all issues by June and a report on Monday's extraordinary meeting at the next sitting in May.

Mr Rattenbury told the Assembly he supported the amendments because they promised ''a clear path for what is happening and is going to happen in relation to ACTEW and keeps the Assembly informed of that process''.

But Mr Hanson said the government was trying to distance itself from its role in the controversy. He accused Chief Minister Katy Gallagher of trying to ''absolve herself of any responsibility''. ''It's not surprising the government wouldn't want any light shone on this matter beyond what has already been shone, because they have got some skin in the game as shareholders, because they haven't been doing their job and they don't want that exposed,'' he said. ''But I think that the real loser in this, anyway, is Shane Rattenbury.''

The Opposition Leader accused the Greens minister of ''doing the government's bidding'' despite making public statements that Mr Sullivan's salary was ''obscene''.

''Where is his integrity?'' Mr Hanson said. ''It's remarkably absent. He's got very little credibility left.'' However, Mr Rattenbury said he was satisfied the process the government had put in place ''will get to the bottom of the issues that have been raised''. ''To simply describe taking one approach or the other as some sort of cover-up or not allowing full scrutiny really is simply a political stance by Mr Hanson,'' he said.

''In the amended motion, we will have a series of reports that will be made publicly available, and a date on which they will be publicly available is specified.

''It's certainly far more concrete than saying we want some broad-ranging inquiry which could take a significant amount of time.''

6 comments so far

  • As a Canberra tax payer I am greatly concerned about the apparent mismanagement of our finite resources. I welcome any and all inquiries into how this organisation is managed especially following recent revolations of absurd levels of remuneration for the top end of town. If there is nothing to hide then let's hear what went wrong, in the spirit of transparancy.

    Concerned Citizen
    Date and time
    April 10, 2013, 4:37PM
    • @ Concerned Citizen...You are talking about a Government well past there use by date, not to mention a Party ( Greens ) that will do anything to stay in power. To tell the truth Labor and the Greens disgust me.

      Martin Says
      Date and time
      April 10, 2013, 7:16PM
  • The unholy alliance that you all voted for, hope you enjoy more cover ups, rorts, and waste of your taxpayers money money under this so called leadership.

    Tony of Kureelpa
    Date and time
    April 10, 2013, 6:30PM
    • It looks like Labor and Mr Rattenbury want to be seen making a few noises of disquiet and hope that the public is fooled into thinking that something serious is being done about ACTEW's endemic self-indulgence.

      This head-in-the-sand approach should help elevate the chronic under-performance and instinctive compensating desire to over-charge into an ongoing high-profile issue in relation to which more gouged ACTEW customers will demand visible remedial action.

      Albert Gerber
      Date and time
      April 10, 2013, 7:15PM
      • The Greens do nothing sitting on top the fence.
        That why they lost three candidates last local elections.
        Greens talks a lot do nothing
        Mr Rattenbury had to support the Government other ways loose his minister job.

        Date and time
        April 10, 2013, 8:58PM
        • The greens are a disgrace. Always acting all high and mighty, but than side with labor to cover this all up by making sure they run their own 'inquiry'. Hang your head in shame greens and labor.

          Date and time
          April 10, 2013, 11:23PM

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