Sydney Water Corporation Board Members



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SpeakersRogan Mr Patrick; Knowles Mr Craig
BusinessQuestions Without Notice

SYDNEY WATER CORPORATION BOARD MEMBERS

Mr ROGAN: My question without notice is to the Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning, and Minister for Housing. What is the Government’s response to recent comments on the appointment of the new Sydney Water members?

Mr KNOWLES: It is a delight to see a smile back on the face of the Leader of the Opposition. Perky Peter is back and is sitting taller in the saddle. It is a different situation for crestfallen Kerry. I wonder, Peter, how long will it be before they come back and get you. The Leader of the Opposition should not trust these people much beyond the Federal election. Speaking on the radio 2BL news program at 7.45 a.m. this morning, the honourable member for Gosford criticised the appointment of the three new directors to the board of the Sydney Water Corporation. The honourable member for Gosford - the Opposition spokesman on Sydney Water - said:
      . . . the new directors are known for their money-making skills -

remember that -

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      and not for their scientific abilities.

He further said:
      The State Opposition has long urged the Government to appoint from a field of expertise in academia, in medicine and in science . . .

Brains from further afield repeated the same thing. The newsreader from radio 3LO in Melbourne said:
      The State Government has fallen into its old trap of appointing people with excellent qualifications in making money, in churning out millions of dollars in revenue, but not with any expertise in making sure that we have clean, potable drinking water.

Mr Hartcher: Exactly. Isn’t that the issue? We can’t even get a drink of water out of you.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Gosford to order.

Mr KNOWLES: We had the response. The honourable member for Gosford confirms his view that the board appointments are better known for making money rather than their ability to participate in health, science and academia.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Gosford to order for the second time.

Mr KNOWLES: Let me compare and contrast the Government’s three appointments with the three people who were removed from the board, those who had been appointed by the former Government when Sydney Water was corporatised. Honourable members will remember John McMurtrie, John Colvin and Belinda Hutchinson. Were they scientists or medical specialists? No. John McMurtrie is a banker, John Colvin is a corporate lawyer and Belinda Hutchinson is a banker. They are good at making millions. Let us apply the Hartcher test of competence in academia, medicine and science to our board appointments. The first appointment, Jeffrey Wright, is well-known and currently the General Manager of Wingecarribee Shire Council - which, I point out to the House, will be particularly valuable even though issues have been raised by McClellan about the outer catchment.

I will run through the curriculum vitae of Jeff Wright: he has a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Engineering Science degree; he is a former Chairman of the Victorian Environment Protection Authority, former Assistant Director of the New South Wales State Pollution Control Commission, and Commissioner of the Victorian Health Commission. His degree in engineering science was in public health engineering. So far as academia is concerned, he is a former member of the Council of the University of Melbourne; a visiting lecturer in public health engineering and environmental biology at the University of Technology, Sydney, and the University of New South Wales; he is the preceptor in environmental health in the School of Community Medicine at the University of New South Wales; he was the Chief Executive Officer of the Mornington Peninsula and District Water Board and the Regional Manager of Melbourne Water. I think he passes the Hartcher test. But wait, in the words of the ad man, "there’s more".

[Interruption]

As the honourable member for East Hills pointed out, Jeff Wright passes the Hartcher test with flying colours. We could have appointed one of the drover’s dogs opposite and still met the Hartcher test. But wait, there’s more. Honourable members will remember Peter Baume, a former Liberal Minister for Health in Malcolm Fraser’s Government. That was not his only qualification.

Mr Whelan: He is a money man.

Mr KNOWLES: Yes, he is a money man, known more for making millions than his ability in academia, science and health. His curriculum vitae states that he is the former President of the Public Health Association of New South Wales. So far as his academic qualifications are concerned, he is the Chancellor of the Australian National University, the Professor of Community Medicine and Head of School of Community Medicine at the University of New South Wales. These are just edited highlights, Chris.

Mr Hartcher: You won’t even answer a question about water.

Mr KNOWLES: You are a sook, sit down Chris. He is delirious and groggy from the party room meeting last night. Savaged by the people who brought him back to this place, he staggered down to the high-tech studio of 2BL on level six of this building and put his views on the record. He did not know what he was talking about; he must have been delirious. Mr Baume is also the Chairman of the Sports Drug Agency, a former Director of the Australian National AIDS Council and a former chair of the Drug Offensive Council of New South Wales. I think he meets the Hartcher test on academia, science and medicine. John Priest is a financial person and is highly regarded as a former finance and corporate development director of Coca-Cola Amatil. Although he has a busy life he is the
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Chairman of the Children’s Hospital Fund - he is obviously interested in children’s health. The honourable member for Gosford has lost the plot and he is supporting crestfallen Kerry in her failed bid.

[Interruption]

Peter, they may have made you some promises last night but as they say, "Never trust the promises of fools, they will only collapse around you."