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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 1232 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

Mr Speaker, I do not believe it is appropriate for anyone in this house to determine what somebody may or may not be willing to pay for the TAB. I have to say that at this stage the Government has not made any decision to sell it. On that basis it is very hard to make a comment on what people may or may not pay. We have had discussions with all of the relevant stakeholders. What is interesting is how few relevant stakeholders we have. I think we had seven submissions to the scoping study - seven altogether. We had a round table last Monday week. Mr Humphries and I, as shareholders of ACTTAB, were there. We asked the stakeholders around the table whether they would be interested in having bilateral discussions over the next few weeks with Treasury officials to further discuss the issues that they had with regard to a possible sale of ACTTAB. So far two people at that meeting have made appointments. The lack of interest is absolutely stunning at this stage in terms of people having a fundamental opposition, as those opposite do, to selling anything.

Still, back to square one, Mr Speaker; the Government has not decided at this stage to sell the TAB. We are in the process of discussions with various stakeholders, very few as they may be. We plan to have another round table in about three weeks' time with the stakeholders who are interested in being there, at which stage we will look at all of the issues, including the most important issue from our perspective and that is jobs in the ACT. At that stage we will make a final decision on what we may do. If by any chance there are no buyers out there offering a reasonable price, then fairly obviously it will not be sold.

Mr Speaker, I honestly do not know where those opposite are coming from on this. I think they have a fundamental view that any government asset must never be sold, no matter what. That means it is better to see a government asset go broke, it is better to see something end up not worth a cent, than it is to sell it. I think that is a very naive view, and a view that shows ideology that is at odds with any commonsense at all. Obviously there are times when assets should be sold and times when they should not be. At the moment we are having discussions with the stakeholders. We are looking at the issues, as those opposite should do, Mr Speaker. But they do not want to have a look at the facts. They just want to rule it out.

MR QUINLAN: I have a supplementary question. Does the Chief Minister concede that, to support its conclusion, the PKF report depends almost entirely on discontinuation of or substantial reduction in the racing development fund contributions?

MS CARNELL: No, Mr Speaker. My understanding of the report is that it indicates that the current level of the racecourse development fund should be kept in place for the next three years, at which stage negotiations should occur to determine how to put it together or how it should be done after that time. My understanding is that the PKF report indicates that possibly the Government should look at some form of incentive payments to the racing industry generally. It was interesting that in our discussions with the various parts of the racing industry they were certainly not ruling out incentive payments. They certainly did want to be confident of their future funding, as any organisation would. They did not seem to be worried about an incentive approach at some stage in the future as long as they had a basic grounding upon which to work.

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