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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 4 Hansard (23 June) . . Page.. 824 ..

Rural Residential Development

MR BERRY: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, you have continually asserted that the status of the leases was central to the preliminary agreement on the Hall rural estate to establish a joint venture and was the basis of the deal falling through. It now appears that the failure to deliver on the two leases by Mr Whitcombe was not grounds enough for withdrawal under the terms of the agreement and it was necessary to draw up a separate deed of termination. How do you justify this continued assertion that the investigation of the status of the leases was central to the agreement? Where was this made clear in the agreement, and why did the agreement therefore not provide for termination on those grounds?

MS CARNELL: Because it was central to the agreement. That was the reason why I asserted that it was. The fact that Mr Whitcombe did turn up with and did present three leases - he has quite openly made the comment that he did - was the basis upon which we believed that Mr Whitcombe had, I suppose, something special; that it might be worth entering into a direct joint venture with Mr Whitcombe. When it turned out that Mr Whitcombe could not bring three leases to the arrangement, the preliminary agreement was discontinued. That was done on the basis of, I suppose, a phone call from Mr Whitcombe suggesting that he was no longer interested in going ahead with the process. Then, Mr Speaker, as would always be the case, there was a termination letter or a termination deed to terminate the preliminary agreement. It was an appropriate approach.

MR BERRY: My supplementary question is to the Chief Minister. Is it not true that the whole enterprise failed because of your and your officers' incompetence, in that you failed in your duty to check the facts and left the Territory exposed to the tune of $107,000-plus?

MS CARNELL: No, Mr Speaker; it failed because those opposite would not let it go ahead. Those opposite put the mocker on what was going to be a good program for Canberra. Those opposite again undermined jobs in this city. They undermined what would have been a very good joint venture.

Casino Canberra - Licensed Club

MR RUGENDYKE: My question is to the Urban Services Minister, Mr Smyth. With regard to the proposal for a licensed club to be established in the premises of Casino Canberra, when did Planning and Land Management grant approval for the licensed club, and was betterment tax payable for the lease variation?

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I thank the member for his question. I am not aware of the process undergone in regard to that, but I am happy to seek details from the department and to get back to him shortly.

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