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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (20 May) . . Page.. 400 ..

Belconnen Aquatic Centre

MR QUINLAN: While we are puddling around, I will direct my question to the Minister for Education in his role as Minister in charge of sport and recreation. Was the Minister aware, when he wrote to the Friends of Dickson Pool on 22 April this year, that the Competitive Neutrality Complaints Unit had completed, or was about to complete, its report on the Belconnen pool and it was - excuse the outrageous pun - dead in the water? Was he consulted by that unit? Did he have Cabinet approval to indicate in the letter that the Belconnen pool development would proceed?

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Quinlan, you will note that on 22 April 1998 the Belconnen pool proposal was proceeding. The unit you refer to is an independent unit which operates from the Chief Minister's Department. Indeed, the Chief Minister made an announcement - and I think you will find that was in May, not so long ago - in relation to that study.

MR QUINLAN: I have a supplementary question. Is the Minister concerned that the submission from his Bureau of Sport, Recreation and Racing - and I assume that is still yours, Bill, this week - which found that there was significant public demand for such a facility, that a pool would generate some 600,000 visits a year and that only a government was likely to construct such a facility - all of which clearly demonstrates that there is a public interest - was simply rolled? Are you concerned that it was simply rolled by this unit? Given your bureau's advice, if it is still your bureau, will you challenge that decision?

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Quinlan, I do not know whether you listen to what happens in the media or listen to what happens around you, but I recall last Friday week the Chief Minister announced that the very purpose of this study was to look at the competition neutrality issues raised by that unit. Foremost amongst those, Mr Quinlan, is public benefit. My bureau has certainly put in a submission to the unit. I think it was a very good submission. It certainly indicated a number of things. The unit is an independent body. You might find, Mr Quinlan, that, on the issue of public benefit, I might well disagree with what that unit said; but it does have to look at the competition policy issue. It is an independent unit. It has made a recommendation now that has to be addressed, because, if it were not addressed and that report perhaps were sent to the ACCC by one of the two operators who actually made the complaint, that might cause us more problems than not. At least now we have the ability, once we have that unit's report, to go into the matter thoroughly. Part of going into it thoroughly means a very detailed look at public benefit, which involves a lot of further consultation and actually building on what has been done to date by the Bureau of Sport, Recreation and Racing.

Marketing and Promotion Campaign Contract

MR KAINE: Mr Speaker, through you, I have a question to the Chief Minister. The Minister for Urban Services can put away his file on numberplates for the time being. Chief Minister, there has been some speculation in the past - and I notice that it was raised again as recently as yesterday - about the methodology by which the contract for the branding slogan for Canberra was awarded to a Sydney company, J. Walter Thompson.

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