Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 10 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 2941 ..
MS HORODNY: My question is directed to Mr Humphries in his role as Minister for the Environment, Land and Planning. In last Saturday's Canberra Times there was an advertisement by the ACT Government that called for expressions of interest from parties keen to conduct commercial paintball operations on land managed by ACT Forests. The Government recently permitted the establishment of paintball operations in the ACT, against the strong objections of many members in the Assembly because of paintball's inherently militaristic and violent overtones, but now it seems that the Government is actively encouraging the setting up of paintball areas in its forests. Could you explain, therefore, what this paintball-led economic recovery plan for the ACT is and give us details of how much ACT forest land is intended to be given over to paintball and how much money the ACT is expecting to make from this new business activity?
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, that is a very peculiar question from Ms Horodny. First of all, the Government did not authorise the use of paintball; the Assembly did. A regulation was tabled in the Assembly pursuant to the Subordinate Laws Act. It was debated on a motion from Ms Follett to disallow it, and the Assembly voted not to disallow it. It was a clear indication by the Assembly as a whole that paintball should be allowed. It is not just the Government that has made this decision. We have been endorsed by the actions and the wishes of the Assembly on that score. You might not have voted for it, but a majority of the members of the Assembly did.
Secondly, I thought it was perfectly clear to Ms Horodny in the debate on that particular issue that we were going to facilitate people having access to government forests. Indeed, during the debate Ms Horodny herself raised the problem of using a government forest to provide for paintball. I assured her at the time that there was very little danger to fauna or flora in the pine forests that the Government operates by having people running around and shooting each other with paintball pellets. I am surprised that she now feigns indignation or shock that we are moving the process on to allow people to express an interest in providing paintball in the Territory.
How much land depends on how many people express an interest and what proposals are considered viable. I think there are three sites presently being considered. Basically, it is a question of negotiation between the potential operators of the service and ACT Forests particularly as to how much land and where. How much money is very hard to know as well. The Government is not imposing a tax on paintball; but we take the view that, if there is an operation coming to the ACT or basing itself in the ACT, then there must be some benefit to the people of the ACT and the taxpayer. There are at least three major paintball operators who operate around the ACT at places like Michelago and, I think, Gunning. Most of their customers come from the ACT. The business that they bring to those places goes outside the ACT. My advice is that the average turnover of each of those businesses is something in the order of $200,000 a year. If there are three businesses starting up in the ACT with turnovers of $200,000 each, that, in my view, is pretty good news. I, for one, welcome it.