Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 17 March 2010) . . Page.. 1051 ..
rare thing for any industry group to be completely satisfied with the level of funding that is provided by any government. I reiterate that the government remains willing to consider any reasonable proposal put forward by the industry on its merits. Just as we have worked with the racing industry to build security, we remain ready and stand ready to continue to work with the industry to resolve these matters.
We are committed to continuing to consult with the industry to develop a suitable funding formula as part of the budget. However, there are other options. It is possible, of course, simply to return to the old funding model with the race fields product legislation on top of that. That may well provide more funding for the racing industry in year one, but I can absolutely guarantee that in three or four years, the industry would be worse off than they would be under the model that is proposed by the government.
Essentially, the argument at the moment is over the level of increase in funding for the racing industry in the ACT. My argument and my very strong view is that I should be asking critical questions of the industry about what their plans are for the future and not just blindly accepting a consultant’s report that puts forward the best possible case for the industry. For example, just on one key issue, the government proposes to increase funding for the industry by the CPI each year. The industry has put forward an ambit claim for the CPI plus one per cent. They are perfectly entitled to put forward that claim, but then to go out and suggest that 85 jobs will be lost—jobs that do not exist at this point—because the government will not agree to CPI plus one per cent must be considered in the context of this debate this afternoon and must be considered in the context of finding a solution to this issue longer term.
I am not an automatic teller machine that simply says yes to every request I get from industry. I know that is the position of the shadow treasurer; he is the automatic teller machine of ACT politics. He shows no capacity whatsoever to make difficult decisions. He has shown no capacity whatsoever during this debate to critically analyse the issues and perhaps ask a question or two in relation to the Access Economics report that was prepared.
Mr Smyth: When did you last meet with the industry? When did the minister last meet with the industry?
MR BARR: I spoke with the industry—you were at the same function—about a week ago, Mr Smyth.
Mr Smyth: Over drinks. When did you last sit down and have a formal meeting with them? This is like Hargreaves and taxis.
MR BARR: I met with the industry at two functions, in fact, twice this year, and one only a week ago. The government met with the industry—
Mr Smyth: Who in the government?
MR BARR: My chief of staff met with the industry on 26 February.