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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 17 March 2010) . . Page.. 1053 ..

MR COE (Ginninderra) (5.45): I rise today to speak on this motion not as someone that personally gambles on races but one that very much appreciates the industry and the benefits that come from the great contribution of those involved in the industry. The reason the racing community are in the strife they are in is, once again, the arrogance of government ministers. It is their refusal to communicate, sit down with and make time for community stakeholders. Andrew Barr can pretend that he is consulting and he can pretend that he is chatting with them, but the fact is he is not. I went to a forum a few weeks ago, the one when the minister was absent, and they had 300 people in the room complaining about the lack of communication from Andrew Barr and his office.

It is a tragedy. You would think that going to meetings like that and dealing with the racing community would be a pretty reasonable part of the racing and gambling minister’s job. You would think so. Quite frankly, if you are not sitting down with the CRC and the other affected clubs then what are you possibly doing as the minister in charge of racing? He is not doing much. Such is the arrogance of this government and ministers like that who run their empires from their office and refuse to communicate with real Canberrans with real problems.

The situation facing the sector, the industry, is really quite dire. I commend the Canberra Racing Club for their professionalism in arranging for Access Economics to have a good hard look at the problems that the industry faces and to put together some analysis and a clear plan for the way forward. The executive summary of this document produced by Access Economics includes:

CRC already receives the lowest proportion of product fees relative to wagering activity of all jurisdictions in Australia. The proposed product fee model would result in the relative funding of the CRC being lower than in other jurisdictions by a considerable margin. A national harmonised product market is widely expected to be the dominant funding model for racing within five to ten years. The proposed product fee could significantly weaken the CRC over the next few years and diminish its ability to compete in the emerging national product market.

It is very real. If the racing minister does not take an interest in that sort of issue then what is the racing minister doing? He is being neglectful—that is what he is doing—all for the sake of his pride. The minister tried to have a go at us. He tried to have a go at the opposition for being “pretend” economic rationalists or for pretending to be fiscally conservative. I do not buy it for one minute. In contrast, you have Andrew Barr taking money off a community so he can subsidise wastage in other areas of government. That is what is happening. What we in the opposition think is that if you are going to take money off a certain community, maybe that community has a right to some of that money in return. Yet Andrew Barr does not seem to accept that.

This is, in effect, a bigger tax, a bigger tax which goes into propping up more wastage in the ACT government. They provide a service. They provide a product which the ACT government capitalises and then does not reinvest. It is a two-way street. When you have got taxpayers and you have got a government it is meant to be a two-way

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