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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (2 July) . . Page.. 2241 ..


Debate resumed from 1 July 1999, on motion by Ms Carnell:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MR QUINLAN (10.37): Mr Speaker, this Bill, I guess, is the "get out of gaol" card for the Government in relation to illegal expenditures made on the Bruce Stadium development. It is the bookend of the amendment to the Appropriation Bill. The Appropriation Bill should have mirrored this Bill initially but we have slipped in an extra $6m through an amendment. These things have to be said.

I will not take a lot of the Assembly's time, other than to say that this is the result of one of the monumental fiascos in the ACT's government and parliamentary history. You cannot help wonder how we came to today. I do not think today is the end game in relation to Bruce Stadium, but it has to be close. You cannot help wonder how we came to today and how parliament came to receive a Bill of this nature.

We have spent $39m, $44m, $45m or $49m on a stadium, and we find in recent times that the Federal Government is about to use its leverage to demand commercial rents for the thing and to seek an evaluation on it. We have allowed ourselves to commit the people of Canberra to this huge amount of expenditure on a stadium we do not own and do not have a long-term hold over. Aside from the maladministration, aside from the misinformation that we have received, aside from the problems that we may yet find in the letting of contracts, even for the catering in the place that is yet to be teased out, we did all of this without having a long-term hold over the property. We have allowed ourselves to spend money that I am sure is beyond the money that might have been spent to produce an excellent stadium, and we have allowed ourselves to be in a position where we have absolutely no bargaining power at the table when we want to take over this stadium.

From this money that we are appropriating, we spent the best part of $2m on marketing nothing. We hired some great names because that is what we do. We associate with the big time. We spent something like $1.7m or $1.8m on marketing and we had virtually nothing to market. It had already been bargained away. We sent to the bargaining table people who I think did not represent the ACT well. The Government must take responsibility for the outfall of that bargaining. On this side of the house we feel that we must support this Bill.

Mr Berry: Do we? I thought we were bitching about it because we did not get to see it in the Estimates Committee.

MR QUINLAN: We certainly did. We have all the bitches in the world. I am happy to defer it, to adjourn it. I have just had a quick caucus, and we feel that we cannot support this Bill. This Bill says, "Please legitimise all the illegal actions that have taken place in relation to Bruce Stadium". The great fear of those on this side of the house is that, come September or October, when we get an Auditor-General's report and the Auditor-General says, "It was all crooked but it has been fixed", those over there will be saying, "It is all legal. It has all been cleaned up. It is yesterday's news". We might

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