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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 5 Hansard (4 May) . . Page.. 1304 ..

Belconnen Pool

MR RUGENDYKE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the sports Minister, Mr Stefaniak. Mr Stefaniak, earlier today you announced that the Government had decided to go ahead with the Belconnen pool project. The development will not be the $15m facility promised to the community at last January's sod-turning ceremony, having been reduced to $8m. Can the Minister please tell the Assembly how the new proposal would stand up against any further competitive neutrality complaints and whether any further competitive neutrality complaints would jeopardise the project?

MR STEFANIAK: I thank the member for the question. It is an interesting question. As the member is aware, there was a sod-turning ceremony. Back in 1997 the Government placed a certain amount of money in its capital works program, conducted a siting study and announced the result of that. Within days of that there were, in fact, two complaints, as I understand it, under the competitive neutrality principles. Of course, those complaints were investigated. The group investigating them, the Competitive Neutrality Complaints Unit, made its findings, as a result of which the Government commissioned the Allen Consulting Group report, which I hope you have a copy of now, Mr Rugendyke. If you have not, I have one here which I will give to you. The Government has looked at the recommendations and, indeed, accepted them.

As you are aware, the recommendations indicated that if the Government were to go ahead with the pool - and the Government has confirmed that with the $8m set aside in the capital works program - it should confine its contribution to four items, basically a 50-metre indoor pool with a moveable bulkhead, seating for 800 spectators, timing equipment and a personal address system that would allow the staging of swimming events, and a large aquatic fun pool that incorporated water activities and a temporary three-lane, 25-metre warm-up area; in other words, things that are not currently supplied within the area. The report also indicates:

The Government should allow the tenderers to determine what additional facilities and services will be offered. Current industry practice suggests, however, that the centre would incorporate a gymnasium, aerobics class, creche, kiosk/coffee shop, medical consulting rooms, etc.

It goes on to say:

The Government should not subsidise any services provided in the new centre which are commercially available elsewhere in the greater Belconnen region (eg, gym facilities).

That is recommendation 6, which has a bit more to it that I will not read out. Basically the Government has accepted that, Mr Rugendyke. However, I cannot say what might happen here in terms of whether one or both of the complainants or anyone else who might feel aggrieved will have recourse to further action. That is indeed their right. I understand that there are additional avenues under the national competition policy mechanisms. There are also, as there is with any decision of government, various other tribunals or courts which could be appealed to. The Government has very carefully

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