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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1997 Week 14 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4722..



MR MOORE: Mr Speaker, my question without notice is to the Chief Minister and it refers to the board of inquiry run by Mr Richard Burbidge, QC. Can you identify the approximate cost to the Territory of dealing with the issue of VITAB from the time the proposal was first put to the ACT Government through to the time of, and including the costs of, this inquiry?

Ms McRae: Were you not listening to the radio? She has already said $5m. What a waste of a question! We have heard it already.

MRS CARNELL: Thank you, Mr Moore. I am interested that those opposite do not believe that the amounts of dollars are - - -

Ms McRae: We heard you; we heard you.

MR SPEAKER: Order! There are still two days to go. I am quite capable of suspending somebody from the chamber for constant interjections.

MRS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, the cost of VITAB to the people of the ACT was considerable. In fact, VITAB, I am sure now, has turned out to be the greatest single example of maladministration and straight waste of taxpayers' money that we have seen. Mr Moore, the court settlement paid to VITAB was $3.3m. A loss of an estimated $400,000 per year was incurred following the decision of the Northern Territory TAB to link directly with the New South Wales TAB and thus bypass ACTTAB. Over three years that equals $1.2m. Obviously, the Northern Territory TAB was not going to be linked to a TAB like ACTTAB that was not linked to another larger TAB, so they severed the link.

Another $60,000 per year was incurred as a result of the increased Victorian TAB handling fees for processing of the ACTTAB bets. That happened as a result of the severing of the link. When that was finally put back in place, the Victorian TAB asked for a bigger pop. In other words, the deal that we could enter into the second time around was not as good as the first one. Over three years that was $180,000. Costs of more than $100,000 were incurred for the Pearce inquiry, made up of $60,000 for the inquiry and $40,000 for legal representation for the former Minister, Wayne Berry. Mr Berry's legal representation for the Pearce inquiry cost some $40,000. Some $600,000 went into the Burbidge inquiry. This totals more than $5.3m and does not include the losses incurred by ACTTAB in 1994 when they were not linked to the Victorian TAB.

Mr Speaker, $5.3m does not sound like money for jam, as Mr Berry called it. Maybe it was money for jam, but it certainly was not on the table in the ACT. The jam was on somebody else's table. Mr Berry indicated that he believed it was a safe deal for the ACT. I think his quote was that he took personal responsibility for this being a safe deal for the ACT. Heaven help the ACT if Mr Berry turns out to be Chief Minister and Treasurer, if he believes this was a safe deal for Canberra.

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