IN AN extraordinary attack on the Chairman and Board of Snowy Hydro in state Parliament, the Nationals Member for Monaro John Barilaro said his confidence in them had been “seriously eroded” over the announced departure of chief executive Terry Charlton.
He also raised what he called a “manipulated process, integrity and possible political interference” over the issue, and demanded answers from his Liberal colleague, Treasurer Mike Baird*, and Snowy Hydro Chairman Bruce Hogan.
“There needs to be a thorough review of the decision [to seek a successor to Mr Charlton] and the processes which led to it. I ask [Mr Hogan] to explain in detail to my community all the facts surrounding this decision,” Mr Barilaro told Parliament.
He asked pointedly, “Can the Treasurer and/or the Chair of Snowy Hydro assure Parliament and my community that this timing has not been determined nor influenced by local political considerations, perhaps by the local Labor Federal member, the federal government or others acting in their interest?”
Mr Barilaro echoed sentiments of Cooma-Monaro mayor Dean Lynch when he said the announcement of a process to find a replacement for Mr Charlton had taken him by surprise. Cr Lynch said (Express March 12) he had been “offended” by the lack of consultation.
“This action of the Board, in not consulting with key community leaders on such an important matter, gives me reason to have serious concern that the Board has not properly considered the enormous impact and ramifications that their decision will have on both the staff of Snowy Hydro and the people in my electorate,” Mr Barilaro told Parliament.
He said he had yet to be convinced there was any need for change, and that Mr Charlton was an “outstanding champion of the region in which the company operates.”
He urged the Board to leave Mr Charlton in place until the end of the year to ensure a smooth transition.
He also said any successor should either come from the region, or live in it - as also requested by Cr Lynch.
“Anything less than a demonstrated ongoing commitment to [local communities] by the new CEO before Mr Charlton’s departure will cause great concern among the many communities benefited by Snowy Hydro,” he said.
The Express requested a response from Mr Hogan, who yesterday (Wednesday) was chairing a regular meeting of the Snowy Hydro Board. He contacted the Express by phone and said he would prepare a measured response in due course.
Mr Baird’s office did not respond to an Express request for answers to Mr Barilaro’s questions.
* Snowy Hydro is jointly owned by the federal, Victorian and NSW governments and NSW Treasurer Mike Baird is the NSW Shareholder Minister.