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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 4 Hansard (28 March) . . Page.. 1024 ..

Mr Kaine: Read the bit about Bruce Stadium too while you are at it.

MR OSBORNE: Mr Kaine interjects about Bruce Stadium. When you look at this project, it is probably a lot worse than Bruce Stadium, because we still have a stadium.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Osborne, this is not a debate; this is question time. Do you have a question to ask of somebody?

MR OSBORNE: My question, Chief Minister, was going to be: what are you going to do about it? But I understand from reading this report that you have undertaken a review. How much longer does the ACT taxpayer have to keep funding this black hole, and can you tell us when this review will be completed?

MR HUMPHRIES: To answer the second part of the question first, the review, I understand, is due to be completed later in the course of this calendar year. I do not know more precisely, but I will get back to you with a month, if we have that available.

As to what we are going to do about the school and how much longer it will be a burden on the taxpayer, we have had lots of debates in this place about the Australian International Hotel School, and we have all expressed our views about the way in which it was set up and the way in which it has been handled in the period since it was established and the basis for it to operate on and so on. For my part, it is my intention to try to end that kind of fruitless debate about the past of the school and concentrate exclusively on its future.

I believe we have an obligation to the students enrolled at that school to ensure that it continues to be available to them to see them complete the degrees they have begun there and that we continue to attempt to develop its potential as a viable education facility in the ACT. Appropriately, we should try to view the hotel school not as a money-making venture.

Mr Kaine: It is a community facility like Bruce.

MR HUMPHRIES: It is neither a community facility nor a money-making venture. We would certainly expect that we would subsidise the operation of schools in the ACT. We do not operate many facilities at the tertiary level, so we do not have the problem in respect of that. Generally speaking, at the tertiary level the question is becoming slightly different: should the government subsidise those facilities? I argue that in the ideal world it should not. However, it is not reasonable-at least in the short term, as the Auditor acknowledges-to expect that there is any capacity to make a profit from the hotel school. If it is not making a loss, I do not mind if it is also not making a profit, because there are obligations the ACT has entered into in respect of the school which it cannot avoid.

The question was: how long will it take to get the school on a financially viable footing where it can sustain itself without government support. There are a number of obstacles in that path. Mr Osborne mentioned the $100,000 loss on foreign exchange. That is unfortunately something a lot of other people in the community are suffering with the fall of the dollar at the moment. I cannot do much about that.

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