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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 4141..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

pins are very much a tangible symbol of the appreciation of the government and the community of those who take those risks on our behalf every day.

The medal-there are 2,700 of them, reflecting the size of those uniformed services and of course the number of friends from interstate who assisted us on the day and who will also be recognised-was designed and developed by the Royal Australian Mint. It depicts the Canberra royal bluebell surrounded by and surviving the tempests of wind and flame. It is an appropriate medal, struck for the occasion; it has been very well received by all those services that I have indicated and all those who have, to this stage, received it. It was, I guess, something of a pity that we did not have the opportunity, having regard to the numbers of members of the community to be awarded the medal, to award them in single ceremonies, but it really was statistically impossible.

Yesterday was the first of a series of presentation ceremonies that will now be conducted to ensure that all of those members of those services receive their medal or their lapel pin. In the context of the recognition of the significant efforts of so many, we need to remember those legions of ACT public servants and non-uniformed Canberrans, ordinary citizens, who also worked hard at this selfless and, I think, inspirational response by this community.

Convention centre

MRS DUNNE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the minister for business and tourism. Minister, on 8 April 2004 you announced that you would be negotiating directly with the lessees of the convention centre to upgrade it. This followed the failure of an expression of interest process that attracted only two, apparently unsuitable, expressions of interest. At the time, back in April, when you started negotiations with the convention centre you said that you would "take every step to ensure the project moves along promptly". It is four months later and nothing seems to have happened.

The business community is becoming increasingly frustrated with your lack of progress on this vital project and has called for you to get on with it. In turn you have called for the business community to basically stump up the cash and make a contribution to the cost-to try and deflect attention from your inaction. But John Teres, of the Meetings Industry Association, has stated, "The government should do their bit before they expect private enterprise to put their hands in their pocket." Why don't you show leadership on this project, rather than attempting to blame the private sector for your failure to act?

MR QUINLAN: As fate would have it, I met with the Canberra Business Council at lunchtime today, and to them I outlined the scenario. That included the CEO of the convention bureau. I think they are coming to understand exactly the position we find ourselves in. Let me articulate it. It is not the fault of this government and it is not the fault of previous ACT governments-there were events before that.

The convention centre was leased to a hotel chain. I think it has changed hands twice since that time. An adjacent block was sold and became a food hall. That has since been on-sold and is now an unsightly car park. The leaseholder of the convention centre is a hotel group. The land next to it is owned by a couple of developers. There is a strip of land immediately outside the convention centre that belongs to the casino-because the casino, for legal purposes, needed to have street frontage-and then there is the hotel. So

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