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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 1908 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

I await with interest the Minister's attempt to justify this because what he is doing is justifying the unjustifiable. Just because there is some bizarre link between Woodies and trees, it does not justify in any way whatsoever this absurd waste of money by two agencies that barely have enough money to run their core business, let alone sponsor a tennis match. Mr Speaker, I am sure that Mr Smyth will give a full answer. I am sure he will attempt to justify the unjustifiable, but everyone else in Canberra knows that it is absurd, that these things do not add up, that what occurred in this instance in relation to ACT Forests was a sham and, more than that, a disgrace to public administration in the Territory.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (3.50): Mr Speaker, it is curious that any attempt to promote the great natural attributes that we have in the ACT seems to fall foul of all the marketing experience that obviously has been accumulated over the years in the ranks of those opposite. And it is curious that a group like Planet Ark could use Pat Cash, a tennis player, to promote some of their programs to interest young people in the environment - to interest young people into doing their bit for the environment. We then get this ridiculous mock horror that Environment ACT and ACT Forests would actually spend some money to promote a healthy lifestyle and the fine environment that we have. It is odd that, clearly, Labor cannot see the connection between wood and trees, Mr Speaker, and it is odd that, in all Mr Corbell had to say, there was no acknowledgment that later in the year when promotional material featuring the Woodies is produced it will be provided to the committee and they will see more value for what we have. There is simply one thing to say, Mr Speaker: It is quite obvious that Labor fails to see the Woodies for the trees.

MR BERRY (3.52): Mr Speaker, I just heard this frail justification for an absolutely mind-boggling decision by the Government to purchase the Woodies tennis team. They are fine tennis players and they do Australia proud, but it is not them that we are talking about here. We are talking about the way the Government managed this affair and how it dragged them into some deplorable management arrangement which might reflect badly on them. It is the Government that is under scrutiny here. I suppose we ought to be thankful, Mr Speaker, that they never engaged Pat Cash - because they would have gone to Treasury as it has more money and would have spent more on it - or Rafter.

They might have gone to Housing and received money from Housing. This is bizarre.

This whole episode has been bizarre since that gathering of senior officials and the Chief Minister at a fundraising do, enjoying the social environment of the event, as one would - and, I suspect, absorbing the ambience and perhaps taking a few other things on board as well. One can imagine that those that looked like bidding on this matter were becoming braver and braver by the minute.

At the end of the day, the Territory is stuck with a $30,000-odd bill. That is what it boils down to. My colleague Mr Hird, I suggest at the insistence of some political genius in the Chief Minister's Department, asked me a question about how we would fund the bottom line. I can tell you what: The bottom line would be improved by a long shot if we did not get involved in these sorts of silly things.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

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