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Wednesday, 18 October 2017
Page: 7846


Senator CAROL BROWN (Tasmania) (12:29): I move opposition amendment (7) on sheet 8225:

(7) Page 23 (after line 10), after clause 41, insert:

41A Disclosure of interests

(1) The CEO must give written notice to the Board of any disclosure made by the CEO under section 29 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (which deals with the duty to disclose interests).

(2) Subsection (1) applies in addition to any rules made for the purposes of section 29 of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

(3) For the purposes of this Act and the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, the CEO is taken not to have complied with section 29 of that Act if the CEO does not comply with subsection (1) of this section.

The government moved its own amendments in the House to address concerns raised in the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee report on this bill. The Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA argued that a board membership of three was too small, arguing that the size of the board and its composition should be similar to that found in private financial organisations in order to cover the range of qualifications.

In addition to the board size amendments, we have seen the government moving further amendments which clearly show the lack of proper consultation in the development of the current bill, and we urge all senators to support our amendments requiring the CEO to disclose any personal or acquired conflicts of interest. This amendment will strengthen the independence and transparency of the corporation.

Minister Ruston earlier made reference to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, claiming that the RIC is established under the same legislative scrutiny as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. If this is true, the government should have undertaken this amendment on their own to ensure that the CEO discloses any personal interest that she or he may have or acquire which would be in conflict with the proper performance of the CEO's duties.

Disclosing any conflicts of interest by the CEO is about transparency to ensure that decisions made by the CEO are made without personal influence or indeed external influence. Ensuring that the CEO discloses any conflicts of interest will reduce the risk of any potential for corruption and/or misconduct. For the minister's information, that is a part of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. We hope that the government will consider this amendment, see that this is an amendment worthy of support and support the amendment before us now.