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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 3922 ..

MRS DUNNE (continuing):

In response to pushes from industry, you were quoted as saying that there would be consultation with industry when we get to a certain point. Given that you have had a report from Gutteridge Haskin and Davey for some months, and that there are reports in the media this morning that you are ready to go to cabinet by the end of this year, have you reached that point where there will be consultation with the industry, and when will you consult with the industry?

MR QUINLAN: The ABC said that I was going to cabinet by the end of the year. That is as may be.

Mrs Dunne: Are you or aren't you?

MR QUINLAN: What will go to cabinet first is some general guidelines as to where we would go in terms of the overall options and those cabinet would accept and those cabinet would not accept. I do not see any great difficulty in discussing the Gutteridge Haskin and Davey report with the industry.

I think you are aware that the tourism industry, particularly the tourism industry associated with the Convention Centre, know that they have to put on the pressure. They know that refurbishment of the National Convention Centre to bring it up to scratch would cost in the vicinity of $50 million. They know that if we wanted to build another one it would be great sums above that. Virtually all of the parties in that sector would dearly love to see a brand new convention centre. It would be good for tourism in the ACT and, coincidentally, good for business.

Like it or not, there are a number of hurdles to get through to ensure that the various possibilities for us are viable. I do not want rabbits running about building a convention centre on East Basin, on the lake foreshore or at Yarramundi Reach when it is not going to happen, when there is absolutely no prospect. I have met with the federal minister, Wilson Tuckey, and informed him that we would dearly like in the long run to have a new convention centre as at least one of our viable options. The prospects we have in mind require some sanity checks. The private sector might come to us once we have said, "How about you build something commercial and throw in a convention centre that meets our needs" and say, "Sorry, it is not a viability." Look at the Lakeside Hotel. It has rather large meeting or function rooms but nowhere near the magnitude or floor space at the National Convention Centre.

It is a difficult problem. What I want to do, without setting any rabbits running, is to make sure that we are pursuing the art of the possible, not putting ourselves way out on a limb and coming back to question time to hear someone say, "You promised to build a convention centre. Why didn't you?"

I cannot see any real problem with discussing the Gutteridge Haskin and Davey report with the tourism industry, provided we get a certain degree of commitment to confidentiality and it does not become just an extra leg in a campaign to push government. I have great respect for the people in the tourism industry. They would not be doing their job by their constituents if they were not putting the hammer on us. I expect that that pressure will remain. Once we reveal the next step, I do not expect the pressure to abate. They would not be doing their job if the pressure did abate.

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