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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 5 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 2049..


MR PRATT (continuing):

encourage the government, the government's authorities, its departments and indeed the new ESA to move as quickly as possible. And they should not be impeded by anybody in getting to the core of resolving this long-outstanding issue. Otherwise, what we have seen here in appropriation 3 is quite appropriate, and I wish the government well in getting on with it.

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism and Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming) (10.07), in reply: Mr Deputy Speaker, I have to say, "Please forgive me, but I forget where this debate started; it was so long ago."So I will be brief. I would like to thank the committee for the work that they have done. I would like to thank Ms MacDonald for the work that she put in and the thoughtful dissenting report.

I just want to express some concern in relation to a couple of matters that the committee canvassed and which have been canvassed here for some time tonight. The commercial matter of the Phillip Oval is one. Somehow there seems to be the impression that the government ought to give up an asset worth $8 million for $800,000 or for nothing and that ACTAFL should be allowed to sell it to whomever they like, even though ACTAFL has inherited the magnificent facilities at Manuka Oval to use. That is one of the reasons it does not need to use Phillip Oval or maintain it and have not maintained it. If ACTAFL gets out of this deal with $800,000 cash it has done very well.

It seemed to me that the approach taken by the Estimates Committee was naive in the extreme and concerning because there seemed to be a representation by questioners in the Estimates Committee of parties who would want to be associated with a commercial deal. There seemed to be an assumption that those parties were dealing in absolute good faith and ought to be given every assistance, and the government, for its part, should just stand aside and let them benefit. This is not what the government could possibly do and honour its obligation to the taxpayer. We have an obligation to make sure that public assets are maintained and, if they are sold, there is the full return and the community's asset is not passed to another party at a knockdown, bargain-basement price.

I have heard some incredible nonsense here tonight, particularly from Mrs Cross, about what might have been done. It seemed to be all about: why didn't we allow the Hellenic Club to take over Phillip Oval? Well, why would we? It just so happens the Hellenic Club won the Club of the Year last week or so. It was not because they are stupid; it is because they are smart. You are dealing here with some smart people and they are not going to do a dumb deal. To place the oval in the hands of any other party for an extended period of time would require the government and maybe this Assembly to decide that we no longer needed it and the purpose to which that other party wished to put that asset was completely acceptable for good and all.

I have heard some nonsense and some things implied-implied in the questioning at estimates and in what has been said tonight-even Mrs Burke saying, "Well, we need to say no more about that,"because she did not know any more about that. Nevertheless, there was the implication of some dark deeds when, in fact, what the government has tried to do was protect community assets.

I expect that members of the Hellenic Club are very honourable people. But they are business people, in the first instance, and they are smart. Well, the value of it to the


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