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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (22 April) . . Page.. 1220 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

It came out of what was happening there. Mr Domenic Mico was an instrumental force in building up the energy there that allowed it to take off and do something. That is a lesson for other places. It comes out of the community and that is where its strength is. To use a little phrase of that great art critic Bill Lawrie, down there it is all happening. It is a great success. I hope that the members who are not in the Tuggeranong area will go there and see what is happening, because it really is a vital, active, energetic, wonderful place. I am very pleased to be able to tell you all about it.

Canberra International Dragway

MR CORBELL (6.00): Mr Speaker, I rise in the adjournment debate this evening to talk about the Canberra International Dragway. I was very pleased today to accept on behalf of the Canberra International Dragway a petition from 4,000 residents of the ACT and the surrounding region in support of the dragway. Mr Speaker, the ACT Government's inaction on this issue has been dismal; it has been absolutely dismal. I have 4,000 signatures there that demonstrate the inaction of both the ACT Government and the Federal Government on this matter.

Mr Smyth as the Minister for planning has been endeavouring to hide behind a smokescreen of legalese in relation to who is responsible for this matter, but the bottom line is that the Canberra International Dragway was entitled to a 10-year lease on the expiration of its old lease on the grounds that certain conditions were met, including the condition that the ACT Government determine the level of rent and certain other matters relating to the use of the site. The ACT Government has refused to do that. They have explicitly informed the Canberra International Dragway that they do not believe that they can do that, even though the lease document that the Canberra International Dragway holds says that it is the responsibility of the ACT Government to do so.

What does this mean for the dragway? It means that the Federal Government can stand up and say, "Oh, I'm terribly sorry, your lease option for an additional 10 years is unenforceable and we won't provide it to you because the ACT Government is not upholding its part of the bargain". Mr Speaker, when you put those two pictures together, what do you get? You get a situation where the ACT Government has allowed the Federal Government to get off the hook on renewing the lease for another 10 years. It is little wonder that 4,000 people have signed a petition saying that that is completely unacceptable.

Mr Smyth stood up in the Assembly earlier today and said that he had not refused to accept the petition. I will just read from the Canberra International Dragway's media release of yesterday in relation to the petition. It says:

The Minister for Urban Services Mr Brendan Smyth declined the opportunity to publicly accept this petition.

I wonder why. It was because he was completely embarrassed by the fact that his inaction had contributed to the closure of this facility. This facility brings in over $2m a year in revenue. It brings in thousands of visitors every year.

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