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Wednesday, 6 December 2017
Page: 9981


Senator RICE (Victoria) (18:13): The Greens will be supporting Labor's amendments today because we believe these amendments will make what we see as a particularly bad bill at least slightly better. The fundamental problems with this bill and the setting up of the Regional Investment Corporation are around the issue of governance. We have so much evidence of poor governance in the requirements set out in this bill. We haven't got transparency. There is no ability to ensure that decisions that this corporation would make are transparent, accountable and associated with good governance principles.

In particular, the aspects of the Labor amendments that we support include making the operating mandate disallowable, because this is critical. If you are setting up an organisation where you can just change the operating mandate without it having to go back before the parliament, it just makes a mockery of appropriate processes. Rather than leaving the operating mandate to ministerial discretion, which is leaving the door wide open for things to occur, the operating mandate should contain rules for the eligibility criteria for loan recipients, information about water infrastructure project selection and the location of the corporation. As we heard during previous debate about this, the fact that the location for the corporation was chosen with no process whatsoever is symptomatic of the problems, overall, with this bill.

We are supporting the amendments that would make CEO conflicts of interest transparent and that ensure that the future review of the act is robust, independent and transparently reported. Although we believe that this bill is irretrievably bad due to its departure from good governance principles, in the event that the bill is passed these amendments would go some way towards preventing the most egregious abuses of power by the minister.