Federal Politics


Resignations should be in pipeline at ACTEW

I was amazed to read the comments by ACTEW chairman John Mackay (''ACTEW understates CEO's salary'', March 20, p1) that the first time the mistake of the reporting of the CEO's salary in ACTEW's annual report 2010-11 was noticed was when staff were checking for this year's estimates. So Mark Sullivan hadn't bothered to read something in the report which would have been of significant interest to him?

Mr Mackay, who had to be pressured for years before reluctantly agreeing to disclose ACTEW's CEO salary in the annual report, hadn't bothered to read it either.

I find this extremely hard to accept.

If however, it is believed, this extreme sloppiness in attention to detail might indicate it is time for messrs Mackay and Sullivan to give the Canberra public a break and resign from their positions and for ACTEW to start searching for a couple of new chiefs who hopefully won't attempt to treat the community like idiots.

Gordon Maher, Gilmore

Full marks to the Chief Minister for her concern at the huge salary package being received by Mark Sullivan of the ACTEW Corporation. In recent times correspondents, including this one, have complained about a number of ''$600,000 men'' on the ACTEW group payroll.


On these occasions ACTEW has failed to publish a correction - the obvious reason being that at least one executive receives an additional $255,000! I call upon ACTEW to reveal accurate figures for the packages enjoyed by Michael Costello of ActewAGL and any other executive receiving over the $250,000 mark.

ACTEW's clients might be rather more tolerant of these excessive rewards were these men doing a satisfactory job of work. In fact they seem to have achieved a list of notable failures in recent times.

Chris Smith, Kingston

Will ACTEW give us poor, downtrodden bill-payers a break and commit a substantially underestimated numerical clerical error on our accounts?

Linus Cole, Palmerston

It seems incomprehensible that the Chief Minister, who is one of the two shareholders of ACTEW Corporation, can claim ''shareholders do not set the salary'' (of managing director Mark Sullivan) when ACTEW's 2012 annual report states that ''the voting shareholders determine the remuneration for directors''.

Perusal of this same annual report reveals total remuneration for the ACTEW board of around $3 million - almost $500,000 each for the executive manager water and the director, water security operations, and an average of near $270,000 each for the chief financial officer and the company secretary. Phew!

And I thought ACTEW was a publicly owned utility, responsible for the supply of ''one of life's essentials''.

Suzanne Vidler, O'Malley

Fitness to serve

Dr Graeme Bates (Letters, March 20) objects to the advertisement for the position of deputy director-general, strategy and corporate in ACT Health.

This job requires leadership and managerial abilities in addition to a high-level business and administrative skill-set, and is not a clinical position. Clinical advice, if it is required, can be sourced from within the directorate. Candidates with clinical qualifications in conjunction with the advertised skills are welcome to apply and will be considered along with all other candidates.

The salary and benefits are in line with other senior positions at this level both in state/territory and Commonwealth governments.

In reference to comments about ACT Health cost, patient care and productivity, the facts are that the government has provided an additional $764 million since 2001-02 to the health budget to meet increasing demand for services. This includes $32.7 million to provide additional elective surgery procedures.

The government has increased staff specialists at the Canberra Hospital by 127 per cent in the eight years to 2010-11 and has funded an additional 309 beds since 2001-02 in recognition of the fact that presentations to ACT Public Hospital Emergency Departments have increased by 18 per cent in the last four years and outpatient services by 28 per cent from 2008-09 to 2011-12.

The standard of care at Canberra's public hospitals is regularly reviewed and monitored against national benchmarks. These processes have confirmed that services provided are of a high standard. If Dr Bates has concerns about the care of individual patients he should raise them directly with the hospital concerned so they can be investigated. I would be concerned if he has not done so and is instead raising them through the media, which is not an effective way of improving patient care.

Dr Peggy Brown, director-general, Health Directorate

A very sorry state

Ross Fitzgerald (''Taking the fall best way to help Labor off its knees'', March 15, p23) is, sadly, blinded by the Tweedledum-Tweedledee of state and federal politics. The problem confronting Queensland voters is that out of power Tweedledum promises the impossible in order to snatch power from Tweedledee with the outcome of this victory being the collateral damage suffered by voters, our states and our nation.

Lack of competence may serve the interests of the career politicians who do battle in beauty pageant state and federal elections but we, our children and our grandchildren are paying the price of this all-too-real fools' paradise. Here in Queensland it is little wonder that so soon after a landslide victory we are dismayed that the future for our children is being blighted by savage cuts to professional skills training when these skills are in such high global demand.

Dr P. A. Smith, Mount Archer, Qld

Loss leader

On the leadership of the government, one wonders why lemmings headed for a cliff would pause to contemplate who should lead them over it.

A. Whiddett, Yarralumla

Timid Labor politicians couldn't even get it right on Thursday. Still, the public will get it right in September.

Rex Williams, Ainslie

Memo to the PM: You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately … depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go! With thanks to Oliver Cromwell, April 20, 1653.

H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra, NSW

Just imagine if Rudd had made it. Gillard and Swan shot at dawn. Rudd's bullying and 5am workaholic demands again on display.

More voter support perhaps, but at what cost?

Murray May, Cook

Kevin Rudd is very much like Peter Costello. He covets his party's leadership, but only if it is handed to him on a silver platter and he doesn't actually have to challenge for it.

And like Costello, Rudd won't challenge as he is afraid of not winning, as he knew he wouldn't this time.

In the meantime, Rudd continues to be a self-serving spoiler.

If only he would just go away permanently.

Don Sephton, Greenway

The Labor government has again proved that they support Julia Gillard and that Kevin Rudd will not challenge. Will the media pollsters stop listing Kevin Rudd as an alternative prime minister?

Bruce Porter, Palmerston

Choice was clear

An observation about the federal electorate of New England. It was held by the conservative side of politics from 1922 until 2001, when Tony Windsor won it as an independent. He consolidated in 2004 with 57.27 per cent of the primary vote. In 2007 he garnered 61.94 per cent of the vote. And in 2010 a similar quota: 61.88 per cent. Yet New England voters, and Barnaby Joyce, maintain he ''betrayed'' his electorate.

In 2004 voters had the option of voting for the Nationals, Liberals, or Country Labor, as well as other parties or independents. In 2007 and 2010, they could elect a Nationals or Country Labor candidate, among others.

Why did the majority repeatedly vote for someone they didn't want? If they wanted a conservative member, why didn't the majority vote that way? Betrayed? Give me a break!

Greg Simmons, Lyons

Fresh grist needed

Ken Helm (Letters, March 20) has opened up a subject, namely published reviews of restaurants in Canberra, which badly needs some changes as all reviews have a major impact on the choices made by patrons and ultimately the success or otherwise of a restaurant business.

As a keen reader of the weekly reviews, I would like to see a widening of the ''panel or pool'' of reviewers. Canberra is a small town and the restaurant industry could benefit from the regular inclusion of ''out-of-towners''. Perhaps a start could be made by asking Ken Helm to do a review or two?

E.L. Fisher, Kambah

The White choice

With the current propensity to employ overseas coaches, there surely can be only one contender for the coach of the Wallabies whenever the contract of Robbie Deans expires. That man is Jake White, the coach of the Brumbies, who in one season and four matches has built an outstanding team with massive confidence, having taken on a dispirited, disorganised and dysfunctional outfit at the end of the 2011 season. White himself has stated he would like to get back on to the world stage and what better chance for him than to be offered the Wallaby coaching position?

All Brumbies and their supporters would be really sorry to see him depart, having achieved so much in such a short time and restored public faith in their beloved ARU team. Ewen McKenzie, ex-Brumby, no doubt has great coaching skills and it would be great to see him replace White as Brumbies coach. Of course all this depends on many variables but Bill Pulver should be well aware that White is the man we want and best suited for the World Cup challenge.

N. Bailey, Nicholls

To the point


After seeing honest coaches get fined $10,000 for bringing the NRL into ''disrepute'', I would like to know how much Australian Crime Commission CEO John Lawler, Sports Minister Kate Lundy and the CEOs of all of the major professional sports are going to be fined for the unbelievable disrepute that they have brought on all Australian sportspeople.

M.F. Buggy, Torrens


All those people and politicians who are complaining about the flood of refugees coming to Australia should consider themselves very lucky they don't live near the borders of Syria, where there are millions of refugees flooding across the borders from Syria to all those neighbouring countries. Those refugees in that part of the world are only just surviving.

Phylli Ives, Torrens


Until I took a closer look, I assumed your front page pointer ''Chicken of the Century'' (March 22, p1) referred to Kevin Rudd. Bold call, I thought, but certainly a leading contender.

Amanda Walsh, Pearce


Thank you to Robyn van Dyk (Letters, March 21). I am delighted to read that significant improvements are under way to the accessibility of family war records at the Australian War Memorial.

Marguerite Castello, Griffith


It would help if we realised that in the points made by AFL boss Andrew Demetriou about the ''madcap philosophy'' of winning at all costs (''AFL boss calls for a return to old values'', March 21, p23) that there can be only one winner, but many high-performance achievers.

Dave White, Deakin

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