Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 3468 ..
Mr Wood: Tell me what we wiped off.
MR SMYTH: You do not transfer debts from old lessees to new lessees in this manner. The leases have been granted. I wrote to everybody here about the granting of these new leases. Mr Quinlan got such a letter as well. Both the Canberra District Rugby League Club and the ACT Leagues Club will pay those moneys that are due to the ACT Government as is appropriate. The previous debt was written off because there was no way to recover it from the defunct body. It has been written off in accordance with the standing practices.
MR QUINLAN: I have a supplementary question. Mr Speaker, if this was compensation for some break-up of the lease, was it preplanned? If there was no way to recover, was there not real property involved over which the Government would have had a claim at any time?
MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, again, you can only gauge the level of their embarrassment in this matter by the way they persist with this sort of drivel. The rental arrears situation has resulted from complexities surrounding ownership of this site. Those of us who have bothered to read the letter that I sent out or some of the other material that has been circulated over the last 15 years would understand some of those complexities. To her credit, the former shadow Minister, Roberta McRae, kept herself up to date with this. I understand that she worked with Minister Humphries when he was the Minister responsible. I understand that she worked very closely with Mr Hird because she understood the complexities. Ms McRae may well have better understanding of standard accounting practices for writing off unrecoverable debts. Perhaps Mr Quinlan could consult with her as well.
The fact is that ACTRL, the registered lessee at the time, is now a defunct body. Although both the club and the Canberra District Rugby League now have an agreement and shared custodianship over parts of Northbourne Oval, the matter of final ownership was only resolved when that new deed was put in place. At present there is no clear legal nexus between either party and the outstanding rental debt. Further, the deed contains a lease, an indemnity provision, which provides amongst other things that this release includes any claims for financial or economic loss suffered by any party.
Mr Speaker, what we have here is their acknowledgment that they were not able to solve these problems. Since the Carnell Government has been in office we have attempted to clean up and resolve all the matters that these people left in place. Might I say, Mr Speaker, that that includes the unfunded liability debt that we now have for superannuation. It is all right to say that you have financial management - - -
Mr Corbell: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. Relevance.
MR SPEAKER: Thank you. I uphold the point of order on relevance.
MR SMYTH: Well, it is highly relevant. They are questioning accounting practices. What I am saying is that, if you have a debt and you are not willing to address that debt, you need to do something about it.