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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (31 August) . . Page.. 2615 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Mr Speaker, I have indicated that I do consider any law deserves to be enforced. I have not taken the view that any law can be ignored if it is not being enforced, just pushed into the background, and I will make sure that this issue is followed through with the Consumer Affairs Bureau to make sure that appropriate action is taken. I was not saying that flexibility is appropriate in the sense that we should let people off, necessarily. I am saying that we should use the process of sending a signal first of all to the industry that that law is out there. It is possible that some people are not aware of its implications or its existence and they need to be reminded of that fact. I will make sure that the Consumer Affairs Bureau follows that matter through appropriately.

Belconnen Pool

MR RUGENDYKE: My question is to my travelling companion, the sports Minister, in relation to the Belconnen pool project. Minister, could you please advise the Assembly what response the Competitive Neutrality Complaints Unit has made to the complaint filed by the private pool operator in June this year?

MR STEFANIAK: I thank the hero of Port Moresby for the question. In response to Mr Rugendyke's question, the Competitive Neutrality Complaints Unit is actually situated in the Chief Minister's office. I am not quite sure whether it has actually responded. I think that the complaint that was lodged immediately after the Government announced in the budget its proposals for the Belconnen pool complex is very similar to the previous complaint. Events have moved on apace since then, Mr Rugendyke. We have also made public the Allen Consulting Group report on its study of public costs and benefits and that, I think, led to the second complaint.

We have also asked - indeed, it was advertised last weekend in both the local paper and national papers - for expressions of interest in private sector involvement in the pool. As you are probably well aware, the Government has stipulated that it wants to see four definite areas in any complex. Indeed, that is what its $8m is to go towards - namely, a 50-metre indoor, all-weather, year-round pool; a three-lane, 25-metre warm-up pool; a sound system; and seating for up to 800 people. The Allen report indicated that those things were a must and those things were what the Government should stipulate and should provide money towards. The rest of what is provided should really come from the private sector.

We have invited expressions of interest from the private sector and I would anticipate that the firms short-listed in that exercise would then be invited to lodge detailed proposals, and it is anticipated that that would be done by mid-December. I am advised that the complaint has been rejected That is the advice I have received. I am getting that second-hand because it comes from someone else's department. I have also noted - Mr Rugendyke might have seen it, too - a press release from one of the three owners of private facilities that they may well be taking further action. We will just have to wait and see in relation to that. Accordingly, at this stage we are awaiting the expressions of interests of the private sector in terms of involvement.

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