Canberra water and electricity utility ACTEW CEO earning $855K – way over the ACT Chief Minister

This story broke here in fanatasy-land a day or so ago but the roots go back two and a half years to October 2010 and earlier.
I have just faxed the ACT Chief Minister an open letter with ideas on reforming ACTEW. Here is the essential text.

Dear Chief Minister,
Re this ~$234K understating of one of the top ACTEW salaries.
Let us be clear here – this issue has been running for at least two and a half years.
I understood that the original +$600K figure (which was excessive enough) – came from a Canberra Times FOI request in 2010; if not under FOI then at least a persistent request for information that took months to be answered. Now we know the 2010 answer from ACTEW was wildly wrong and has stood until now.
Here is the 2010 story saved on RiotACT from two and a half years ago.
Mark Sullivan worth half a mil per year? – 8 Oct 2010

Clearly ACTEW needs major surgery and the following points might be just a start.
[1] Obviously they could source a replacement for less than half of what they are paying the current CEO. Review all salary scales and re-align with utilities from similar sized cities.
[2] ACTEW needs to be divorced from AGL in all areas.
[3] ACTEW should be pruned back to being an agency tasked to deliver the cheapest electricity and water to Canberra – prune back the top heavy ACTEW board and top management structure – sever non-core functions.
[4] Shut down their Civic offices and relocate to cheaper premises at depots in Fyshwick.
[5] ACTEW needs telling by Govt to cease all their “community sponsoring”. To the extent that worthy “community organisations” need financial help – a Minister should handle that task and make decisions to pay out taxpayers money through a Dept in an open and transparent process.
[6] ACTEW has wasted hundreds of $millions on gold plating our water supply while in the thrall of doomster climate change dogmas. A big contributor to blowing out the ACT debt.
[7] By “gold plating” I mean the unnecessary Murrumbidgee to Googong Water Transfer which should be put on “care & maintenance” at least cost to taxpayers.
[8] Your predecessor Chief Minister and Labor Governments contributed to ACTEW cost and debt blow-out by delaying construction of the no-brainer enlarged Cotter Dam.

And I have not started on wasteful Green power schemes – electric car scheme.

7 thoughts on “Canberra water and electricity utility ACTEW CEO earning $855K – way over the ACT Chief Minister”

  1. ACTEW’s Annual Report lists almost a hundred sponsorships last year as well as 8 supported events and 10 fundraising initiatives. On top of that they gave out 10 “green grants” to what they considered worthy projects to reduce water or electricity use. They are also running an interest-free finance facility for “selected heating, cooling and hot water products”, and producing a fancy Sustainabilty Report detailing dozens of pious acts from fooling with electric cars and solar power to chasing energy ratings and churning out reports and submissions.

    They need to wake up to themselves. They are not an oil or tobacco company that needs to curry favour with the public by acting like a charity or foundation. They are a public utility (admittedly a public-private partnership with AGL). Their job is very simple – to supply a reliable water and electricity service at the lowest possible cost. The cheaper water and power are, the less call or need there will be for subsidies, grants, freebies and PR exercises.

    The problem does not stop with mission creep either. ACTEW are also pissing money up the wall in the way they operate. Equity and diversity policies, harassment and discrimination machinery, “change management” programmes, an Organisational Capability branch, millions on training and retreats – these and other initiatives create meaningless jobs, foster snivelling, generate paperwork and generally gum up the whole organisation and blur its role and mandate.

    No wonder their chief executive is so overpaid – the organisation has taken on far too many extraneous tasks and feelgood projects, and with all the added layers of fussing and meddling must have practically forgotten what it exists for in the first place.

  2. Warwick,

    The $238K understatement is almost as much as Chief Minister Katy Gallagher’s salary of $263K.

  3. Just saw this dated today in the Canberra Times; “Claim ACTEW misled govt” March 27, 2013. Clearly the ACT elected Labor Rulers are not letting ACTEW off the hook too easily over this mess. It all beggars belief that the wrong numbers could have stood for over 30 months or 900 risings and settings of the sun.
    I saw this too; ActewAGL is pleased to announce its continued sponsorship of the Canberra Raiders and Brumbies into the 2013 season. I thought these professional sports all got funded through TV rights. What on earth is ACTEW doing wasting your money.

  4. This issue is sure rolling on over in capital-land
    ACTEW boss offered to take pay cut 2 April Did he really contact your Premier direct about that ?
    ACTEW boss pay cut ‘a matter for the board’ 2 April
    Water utility tapped on costs 2 April I see Premier Gallagher is going on about “corporate largesse” I hope she remembers that she is representing the Labor party.
    Great story about the ACTEW boss who got to be caddy at a celebrity golf do after ACTEW paid $12,500. I wonder if Canberra people like paying for this sort of thing from their utility bills?

  5. I read in the CT article the ICRC says it is surprised by the “strength of feeling” in the community about water supplier ACTEW and its half-owned electricity and gas subsidiaries ActewAGL.
    I think this graphic gives a clue – showing the years of steady reduction in per capita water use.

    ACTEW seemed oblivious of the fact that the dams filled at the end of 2010 –

    yet kept most restrictions on. They seem more concerned to keep environmental flows high than to ever let Canberra people have plentiful water again at a reasonable price. Up to date dam levels can be seen at Elders site – not just Canberra.

  6. I see the ABC reporting – Mackay resigns as ACTEW chairman
    I hope this is the start of a wholesale clean-out that might change the culture at ACTEW and whatever other part of ACTEW.
    Get the org back to simply delivering the cheapest water and electricity services.

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