Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 1655 ..
MS CARNELL (continuing):
Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, it is an obvious Labor Party tactic that, if you do not like what a report says and you cannot argue the case on its merits, you try to muddy the water; you try to suggest that the consultant has somehow ignored the terms of reference. Perhaps Mr Corbell could save everybody's time and bring forward his allegations about ABN AMRO right now. Why wait until the scoping study gets on the table? We are seeing them start already. Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, the taxpayers of Canberra would be much better served if the Opposition were prepared to debate the real issues fairly and properly. The suggestion that the ACTTAB review was not conducted on an impartial and independent basis is, quite frankly, ridiculous.
For the information of members of the Assembly, I will briefly outline the process that was followed in conducting the review. Firstly, the Government decided to appoint a consultant with appropriate experience and expertise. Selected tenders were sought from three organisations, based upon their recognised expertise and prior experience. The organisations selected were Andersen Consulting, Horwath (NSW) Pty Ltd and PKF Consulting Pty Ltd. After evaluating the responses received, references for PKF were sought from referees, including the Northern Territory. The Northern Territory Treasury advised that PKF had undertaken a number of projects for the Northern Territory Government. The most recent was the scoping study for the Northern Territory TAB. It was considered by the Northern Territory that PKF had provided sound advice and had demonstrated a very good knowledge of the relevant issues. The referees also stated that PKF had efficiently and effectively conducted the public consultation elements and used their extensive industry contacts to very good effect. It is noteworthy that officers of my department had not seen a copy of PKF's Northern Territory report at that time.
David Barbuto, who was the principal consultant for the ACTTAB review, has had more than 10 years' experience with the gaming industry and was the head of the Northern Territory consultancy. He was a member of the team that conducted an analysis of the New South Wales registered clubs. Who is in government in New South Wales? Labor, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker. He also conducted an investigation into the structure, viability and funding options for the Tasmanian racing industry. He was involved in the corporatisation in New South Wales before the New South Wales TAB was sold. He also provided advice to Victoria on casino taxation rates, and provided advice on gaming licensing for the New South Wales Casino Control Authority. It was obvious that PKF had the appropriate credentials and expertise, and the ACT was getting a fair price. I should also point out that PKF engaged an independent financial expert and an independent attorney to assist in preparing the report on ACTTAB. These professionals performed no services in relation to the Northern Territory report.
Members will be aware that after the release of the report the Government set up a round table conference with interested parties. I made it clear at the meeting that the Government had not made any decision about the future outcome of ACTTAB, and I have said it again and again, even though Mr Corbell, the whole way through his speech, misrepresented my position and the position of the Government. The Government would only consider selling ACTTAB after taking into account the needs of the key stakeholders, and that includes, of course, the staff.