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One of the things I did learn, and Mrs Carnell has not yet got this message, is that if the joint venturer is to pay for something the return to government will be less. If we require a joint venturer to undertake some work - the Chief Minister suggested clearing the site or getting rid of the contamination - that will be something that the joint venturer, the private sector, may do; but it will result in a lower return to government. There is a cost. These businesses are not philanthropic bodies and they will take that cost out of the return. The Government, the people of Canberra, will pay in the end. Mrs Carnell has quite a deal to learn.
Let us look at some of the problems I considered as Minister and which led me not to proceed at that time with such a proposal. The clearing of the site does not present a great problem. There are buildings there that can be demolished, I think, without some of the very heavy costs that the ACT Government will incur in clearing the hospital. Mind you, there is likely to be asbestos on the site. That will be a cost. The underground cables may contain asbestos, so there will be a cost. Contamination of the site will present a cost to the Government. We cannot anticipate what that cost might be because we do not yet know the level of contamination. There certainly will be contamination of various sorts. Just assessing that level of contamination is in itself a very significant cost, quite apart from clearing it.
Then we have the major cost of preparing that site - this is something that has not been mentioned; I do not think the Chief Minister was much aware of it - and restoring the Kingston powerhouse to some sort of use. I think the only knowledge of the whole site that the Chief Minister has is what she saw when she turned up for a photo opportunity there. I have been through the powerhouse and I have had quite a number of discussions about it. To get that into some sort of working order whereby it can have occupancy is truly going to be an immense cost, and it is one that we will gladly bear in due course. It is a heritage building and that cost will be incurred. In order to justify that cost, and to find the resources to do it, we need to be sure that that whole development occurs in a period of fairly high demand, and that requires proper timing.
All those costs that I have mentioned - the clearing, the contamination and the powerhouse restoration - will be borne by the ACT Government. If this were a businesslike government it would have negotiated - I should believe successfully - with the Commonwealth that the costs around the Government Printing Office would not be borne by the ACT; but Mrs Carnell gave that away very quickly. This is one joint venture where we could finish up paying developers to do something instead of getting some appropriate return out of it. There is no evidence at all, given the rapidity of the decision, that Mrs Carnell even asked the question of the Commonwealth, let alone negotiated with them about their responsibilities for their areas on that site. Nevertheless, all those matters could be overcome. They will, of necessity, be overcome at some stage in the future. They will be, because that site will be developed and it will be a gem in Canberra. I think Mrs Carnell's approach at this stage has made it all the more difficult for successful and good outcomes to occur. Those were not the only reasons why I declined to take some action on Kingston.