Page 2817 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 17 August 2005

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I have no recollection of any such matter. I will take advice and report back to the Assembly.

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. I thank the attorney for that; he might take this on notice too. Was your decision to seek legal advice on having the coroner stood down taken after counsel for the ACT government may have received any such recommendations?

MR STANHOPE: I will have to take that on notice, consistent with the previous answer. I will take the question on notice.

National Convention Centre

MR GENTLEMAN: My question is to the Minister for Economic Development. Today the minister announced that the ACT government has successfully concluded negotiations with the Intercontinental Hotels Group over the future of the National Convention Centre. Will the Minister inform the Assembly of the deal that the territory has struck with the IHG?

MR QUINLAN: It is with great relief that I advise the Assembly that we are getting somewhere. It has been a long and hard road. It has not been assisted at all by those who did not really want to understand the elements of the problem but just wanted to make politics out of it. Had we moved at the time our opposition was recommending that we move, the government and the ACT taxpayer would probably have paid quite dearly. I spent some time this morning talking about the general catalogue of fiascos that were the hallmark of the previous government. Its approach to this issue, if its public utterings had been the case, would have been of the same genre.

For most of this debate people forgot that the National Convention Centre was not the property of the ACT. It was privately owned property operated only by a hotel group, yet there was the insistence that we would just slavishly throw money at it without protecting the taxpayers’ interests. We have made damned sure that we have protected the taxpayer from a deal that would have had some similarities to deals that a previous government involved itself in. We have now arrived at an arrangement whereby the lease for that property will transfer to the ACT for the nominal fee of $1 plus GST—$1.10.

Mr Smyth: Are you going to take the counter-offer of $1.50?

MR QUINLAN: I am still considering Hamish’s offer. Under the interim agreement that we have so far struck, the property will become the property of the territory. It is agreed that up to $30 million will be spent on refurbishment. Priorities have been set in relation to that expenditure. Fees for architects and surveyors, et cetera, will take precedence. Then there will be engineering inspections and assurance that the building is structurally sound. If any remedial works are required on a structural basis, they will then take precedence. There will be the establishment of a risk fund, a contingency amount to cover any unexpected and necessary changes to the works as they progress, and then money will be expended on the peripheries and the appointments of the convention centre.

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