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Nats call for greater scrutiny of Albany wave farm project

The Nationals WA have called for the McGowan Government’s troubled Albany wave energy project to be referred to the State Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.

It comes amid further revelations that the company hand-picked by Labor to deliver the wave farm – Carnegie Clean Energy – is struggling to meet milestones in order to secure the more than $15 million of taxpayer money promised to it by the Government.

Less than two months after the Labor Government gifted Carnegie $2.6 million despite the company failing to reach funding milestones, the CEO this week revealed Carnegie was unlikely to meet yet another deadline to prove it could stump up its share of project funding.  

Of further concern, Carnegie’s 2017-18 financial report states the company incurred a net loss after tax from continuing operations of more than $63 million. An auditor’s note in the same report cast “significant doubt about (Carnegie’s) ability to continue”.

Energy spokesperson Terry Redman said Carnegie’s woes were exasperated by the fact the McGowan Government never required a business case to be submitted for the wave farm.

Mr Redman has previously raised issue with Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan’s “hands-on” role in the project.

The Minister owned a minority stake in Carnegie’s third-biggest shareholder at the time the-then Labor opposition unveiled plans for the wave farm in February 2017.

Ms MacTiernan divested her shares after Labor’s election victory but Freedom of Information documents reveal she later told agency staff that she would be leading the project, despite it not falling under the scope of her portfolio.

“This is about prudence in government decision making because we know there wasn’t a business case for this project,” Mr Redman said.

“In fact, despite the first commandment of the McGowan Government’s Langoulant report – thou shall not proceed without a business case – 16 out of the 23 projects the Minister for Regional Development has brought to the Cabinet table during this term of government have not come with an accompanying business case.”

Mr Redman said it was time for Labor to remove its head from the sand and acknowledge the alarm bells ringing.

“The sensible thing to do is to refer this project to the Public Accounts Committee and give taxpayer’s confidence that the Government is not throwing money down the drain,” Mr Redman said.