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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 4141 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

My only point in making this statement is to briefly emphasise a couple of points. I believe the Government is to be commended in recognising that, after a fair period of time to settle into the business, it has not taken off. It then held a review, decided to wind things up, and is now prepared to act on the decision before things become much worse.

However, it is a great pity that the same attitude is not being shown towards a government business that makes the financial losses of CanDeliver pale in comparison, the business that neither of the major parties want to talk about because they set it up with no real scrutiny, the business that the Auditor-General said would never repay its debts nor be likely to have revenue cover costs for many years yet to come, the business that, since its establishment in 1994 has cost the taxpayer over $40m and will cost them another two or three million again this year. Of course, I am talking about the great subsidiser of overseas students, the Australian International Hotel School.

I am sure that this government business was a good idea at the time as well, and if enough spin was placed on a couple of carefully selected criteria it could possibly be declared a success; but someone over there on the government benches needs to take the blinkers off and recognise that it is just a dud. Something drastic needs to be done about it and done quickly. In many ways, the Bruce Stadium redevelopment, the failed hospital implosion, the hotel school and CanDeliver have a lot in common. Someone had a bright idea; there was a lack of expert advice provided; a Minister who said the project was a real goer; no real scrutiny and derogatory labelling of those who called the project into question as "wreckers". Little wonder that each has been a disaster.

This type of outcome is not just confined to this Government because, going on experiences, the Labor Party is capable of similar feats of greatness. I believe it was packing up its offices just a few months after the ribbon cutting ceremony for the hotel school. I will not even mention the name of a certain offshore betting arrangement or, as Mr Rugendyke mentioned, the Harcourt Hill exercise which will be subsidising some developers for a number of years.

In a lot of ways, if you scratch under the surface, both of the major parties are the same, and this understanding makes me all the more determined to push towards several goals over the next couple of years. First, to instigate change at the foundations of our Public Service; secondly, to provide for greater scrutiny of the Executive by the Assembly; and, thirdly, to allow for more input into the parliamentary process by the Canberra community. After saying all that, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I look forward to supporting this motion.

MR BERRY (5.05): These things have to be brought into context. Whenever you look at these tragic losses you have to think about those people who are waiting for a hospital bed to get some surgery. About 500 of them could have been serviced by the total losses which have come from this failure. This enterprise was a dead cat bounce for the ACT taxpayer from its beginning.

Mr Humphries: You did not say that.

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