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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 1 Hansard (14 February) . . Page.. 32..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

This is a $600 million government-underwritten proposal for a 5,000-square-metre convention centre, two 300-bed hotels, a $60 million recreation facility-all to be funded or underwritten by a Liberal government-and a proposal supported by the shadow Treasurer, because the shadow Treasurer would in no circumstance allow his leader to expose himself with a proposal that was flawed. So on the one hand you are underwriting $600 million of expenditure, and on the other hand you are seeking to suggest that there is something a little bit shaky about the state of the ACT economy. You can't have it both ways.

Convention centre

MR GENTLEMAN: My question is to the minister for economic development. The Chief Minister has just raised the issue of a convention centre proposal that has received some publicity in recent days. Minister, as it is the government who would have to implement this proposal, are you aware of any approach to the government to discuss it? Have you seen any material that supports any of the claims that are made in this proposal?

Mr Pratt: Why go to the government? They are bereft of ideas.

MR QUINLAN: You are getting more childish as time goes by, Steve. I am interpreting the question as saying, "Do we think this was a good idea?"You could say, "Yes, this is a good idea."If the objective was to get the embattled Leader of the Opposition some favourable exposure, then it was a good idea. The different stories got three page ones over the space of about a week. Today, there is a secondary editorial, stating quite clearly, in the opinion of the Canberra Times:

... the ACT Government is entitled to be skeptical of the Opposition's plan for a new convention centre ...With most Canberrans of a mind that the tourism and conference industries should show the colour of their money if they feel there's a need for a convention centre ...

et cetera, et cetera. What today's editorial does, in its own way, is confirm that this little emperor has no clothes. It was delivered under the banner "this is just an argument stunt". "Delivered under an argument stunt"is, from my perspective, code for "I ain't done any work. I've got three little bitches. I'll put them out there and get my name in the paper, at a time when I really need my name in the paper."

We had an article which said that business was keen. If you look at the people to whom this article referred, you could appreciate that they might be keen, because they are, largely, the potential beneficiaries of any convention centre funded by government. Stop the press; the Tourism Industry Council thinks it is a good idea that we spend a couple of hundred million dollars of taxpayers' money on a facility that will make no money. Stop the press; the HIA thinks it is a good idea. Stop the press; the AHA thinks it is a good idea. We have to come back to the AHA.

The AHA said that $200 million of government money, taxpayers' money, for the convention centre is a good idea; more hotels is not a good idea. You would have thought that, with the connections that the opposition has with the AHA-the current


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