The ACT’s monopoly water provider, Icon Water, is in the sights of Opposition Leader Alistair Coe as he flags an overhaul of the Territory’s public administration if elected next year.
He took aim at Icon, carved out of ActewAGL in 2012, in his Budget reply speech, in particular the size of its executive salaries, and this week backed up with another attack on the organisation and its alleged corporate largesse.
As part of a general theme of value for money and fairness, Mr Coe said he was looking at returning Icon to the public service as a new water body or agency that did not require a corporate structure.
“I want to have a discussion about whether we do need to have a corporate structure for Icon Water or whether we could just have a water directorate, a water department, a simple water authority because at the moment it’s just not right that the managing director of Icon Water gets paid more than double of the head of Canberra Hospital. It’s just not right that the Chief Financial Officer of Icon water gets paid $100,000 more a year than the head of ACT Treasury,” he told ABC radio.
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The managing director of Icon Water has an annual salary package worth $764,197.
Mr Coe said that with Icon the ACT now seemed to have the efficiency (sic) of government and the largesse of a corporation – the worst of both worlds.
“The point of a corporation is that they’re more nimble and can compete. We don’t have a market for water in the ACT, it’s a monopoly provider, we don’t need to have a corporate structure,” he said.
As well as Icon Water, Mr Coe took aim at the Planning and Land Authority and the length of time it was taking to process development applications and the Public Service in general, saying it was not delivering value for money despite record revenue.
But he ruled out cutting services or the number of public servants, saying he wants to empower public servants and de-stress the Public Service. He also accused the Government of running a scare campaign on his plan to freeze rates.
“We’re not in the business of cutting public servants, we’d rather be hiring,” he said.
Mr Coe said there was ‘real mismanagement’ from the Government.