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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2448 ..

V8 supercar race-termination of contract

MS DUNDAS: I have a question also about the estimates, but it is for the minister for tourism, not the Minister for Health. Minister, you appeared before the Estimates Committee on Thursday, 18 July and answered questions about when decisions would be made on the V8 race by saying, "Fairly soon." In fact, when clarification was sought you agreed that "fairly soon" meant within a month. An announcement then hit the streets on that Friday that the V8 supercar race had been cancelled. Minister, can you please inform the Assembly of the date on which the decision was made to terminate the V8 supercar race contract?

MR QUINLAN: I cannot recall the exact date, but suffice it to say in answer to your question that that decision was pretty well taken before 18 July. I think you would have to accept that the government does have a prerogative to make announcements like that when the appropriate people have been advised and, in fact, within its own timing, let's face it. So it is part of the decision process. I concede that I probably should have been more detailed in my response to the Estimates Committee, but I thought we were just playing a game at that stage-"When will you be saying it?" "Soon." "How soon?" "How big is a bread box?"

If the import of the question is whether I feel that I should have advised the Estimates Committee on the day before we intended to make a public announcement in which we could explain the full picture and we could make sure that all of the parties were advised, I think that I behaved entirely appropriately. Let me also advise you that the final terms of the press release which was agreed to and accepted by AVESCO were arrived at about 10 minutes before our press conference-

Mr Smyth: But that was not when you made the decision, though. It is about your decision, not AVESCO's decision.

MR QUINLAN: The decision generally made, with the decision to be confirmed because, I will tell you this much, there was still on foot as I sat in estimates the process of negotiation as to what it would cost us to back out of the contract. In fact, we were negotiating with the parties in terms of finalising it to the point where it was and ought to have been announced, right up to the very minute of the press conference. Certainly, in the time that I was in estimates being asked about it, there were still negotiations going on. The government had decided at that stage that it was in the process of negotiating its way out of it but, in terms of whether it was a black and white, totally absolute decision, no, and that decision was not absolute, in fact, until we told AVESCO, "We are not talking to you any more. We are going to the press conference and we cannot wait."

MR SPEAKER: Do you have a supplementary question, Ms Dundas?

MS DUNDAS: Yes, thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, in an attempt to salvage some openness and accountability from this whole process, can you please inform the Assembly how long we will have to wait for a decision or some information on how the money that was targeted to be spent on the V8 race will now be expended?

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