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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (16 August) . . Page.. 2242..


MRS DUNNE: Mr Speaker, it is interesting that the minister said that where we stand is often where we sit. I have a supplementary question. Minister, are you surprised that the words I used in that question are the exact words used by Minister Corbell in this place to the minister for education on 16 February 1999? What have you done to change the views of Mr Corbell on the subject?

MR BARR: Mr Corbell and I have engaged in many debates on many issues, going back to when we were in Young Labor together back in the early 1990s. Mr Corbell and I share many views and, on occasions, we differ. In more recent times Mr Corbell and I are finding that we are agreeing on more and more issues-in fact, I think this is one of them.

Dragway

DR FOSKEY: My question is to the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation and it concerns the proposed dragway. A government report in 2004 put the full economic cost to the ACT of a new dragway at $17.1 million and stated, "There is no evidence to show that significant social and economic benefits would be achieved from a local dragway."The minister has committed to spending $8 million on the dragway project. What study and data show that this project will be economically viable?

MR BARR: There is an ongoing process in relation to the dragway, both on environmental grounds and to assess the economic benefits of such a proposal. There are strong views on both sides of the debate about the economic merit or otherwise and the environmental effects or otherwise of the proposed dragway. A clear process is under way. The government's position has been that we will contribute a maximum of $8 million in capital, in a one-off capital grant, should the dragway meet the stringent environmental and economic requirements. Clearly, the running of the dragway is the responsibility of the proprietors, and the government has been very up-front in saying that it will not contribute to the ongoing recurrent expenditure or make any contribution at all to the recurrent running costs of such a facility.

The proprietors have indicated publicly and in meetings with me and other ministers that they felt they were able to run the facility prior to its closure by the then Liberal government. It is interesting to note the desperate need to close the facility all those years ago, as it still sits as an unused site. One would have to question what the urgent need was all those years ago. Nonetheless, a process is under way at the moment whereby the environmental and economic issues surrounding the dragway are being tested, and that process has not reached its conclusion. Once that process has reached its conclusion-and there is an expectation that will be by the end of this year-we will then be in a position to make an informed decision in relation to the environmental issues. I understand there are significant environmental hurdles that the dragway would have to overcome. Equally, economic issues will be examined, and a detailed business case will need to be brought forward to show that the facility will be economic.

DR FOSKEY: I ask the minister a supplementary question. Whether the dragway goes ahead or not, how can the public be confident that dragway funding will not continue to be sourced from various government agencies over and above or separate from the $8 million committed so far?


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