On 13 September 2017, The Rev. Fred Nile MLC posed a question to the government before the NSW Upper House on the topic of the Andrew Vesey’s sale of a portion of his shares in AGL, a company on which he sits as Chief Executive Officer.
Asking a question to the government is an opportunity for Ministers to be kept accountable. Questions can be asked either by government MPs (in which case they can be used to allow a Minister to put recent government or Ministerial activity on the record) or the Opposition (in which case they are usually drafted to highlight some perceived inadequacy on part of the government).
A question can, of course, also be asked by a member of the cross-bench, such as an MP from a minor party. Since the Christian Democratic Party has two members in the Upper House, it is holds the balance of power and uses question time to highlight important social and other issues.
Energy supply, and in particular the cost of energy consumption in NSW has been the subject of considerable debate. The manner in which corporate entities that are involved in the industry manage their affairs is therefore a subject of public concern. A copy of Rev. Nile’s question from 13 September, and the answer given, is extracted below.
QUESTION TO THE GOVERNMENT
ANDREW VESEY, SALE OF AGL ENERGY SHARES
Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE ( 14:48 :50 ):
My question is directed to the Leader of the Government, the Hon. Don Harwin, as Minister for Energy. Is the Government aware of the Daily Telegraph report that AGL Chief Executive Officer [CEO], Andrew Vesey, who is on a 457 visa, has just sold 50,000 of his own shares for $1.24 million? Is it a fact that Mr Vesey is also entitled to receive $18 million of AGL shares? Given the controversy surrounding supply of energy in New South Wales, what is the Government’s response to these moves and the potential impact of the closure of the AGL Liddell coal-fired power plant on electricity availability and prices?
The Hon. DON HARWIN (Minister for Resources, Minister for Energy and Utilities, and Minister for the Arts) ( 14:49 :43 ):
I thank Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile for that interesting question which, in large part, deals with matters to do with the Chief Executive Officer of AGL and his private affairs, which are matters between him and his board.
Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile:
It may affect his decisions.
The Hon. DON HARWIN:
I am not in any position to comment on whether they are true or not. I certainly have seen media reports to a similar effect. I have also seen a media report in which it was speculated that the reason he was doing that was to pay a tax bill. I do not know whether that media report was correct—maybe it is; maybe it is not. If it is to pay a tax bill, it might be understandable that he might have to do that. I have seen a number of reports in relation to the future of the Liddell power station. A number of them have suggested that New South Wales might be interested in promoting Liddell, investing in it, owning and running it. We are not; we are monitoring the situation. As the Premier said, we are looking at a broad range of options on energy through our Energy Security Taskforce, our work with the Australian Energy Market Operator, the Council of Australian Governments Energy Council and the Finkel report.
Order! There are far too many interjections.
The Hon. DON HARWIN:
We are also watching closely AGL’s plans for the Liddell power station. We are interested in how we can get more reliable energy into New South Wales, and new investment as well. AGL and the Commonwealth have a dialogue and AGL has said it will come back to the Commonwealth within three months about what it plans to do. In New South Wales we have a huge pipeline of projects ready to go with more than enough capacity to cover the net power needs of New South Wales if, for example, we reach the situation in 2022 where the Liddell power station is closed.
The pipeline includes a range of technologies such as wind, solar, gas, hydro, biomass and batteries which are all in the offing, with many proceeding already and many more planned. To get the rest of the technologies off the ground we need a sensible national plan that integrates our climate and our energy policies. I thank Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile for his question about the Liddell power station and the situation New South Wales faces. I hear what he says regarding the situation with the CEO. They are matters, however, that are outside the purview of the New South Wales Government. They are matters between Mr Vesey and the board of AGL.
Media inquiries: Rev. Fred Nile MLC: (02) 9230 2478
The Rev. The Hon. Fred Nile MLC