Page 2368 - Week 06 - Friday, 27 June 2008

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Proposed expenditure—Part 1.18—Exhibition Park Corporation—$541,000 (net cost of outputs), $3,176,000 (capital injection), totalling $3,717,000

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (1.14 am): The Exhibition Park Corporation continues to operate under severe constraints. EPIC is constantly under pressure to create a revenue stream with some but little financial aid from the government. The particular issue with EPIC obtaining access to additional blocks has been ongoing for the last four or five years. What the board sought to do was to set up a master plan to endeavour to put EPIC on a proper commercial footing with its own stream of income such that it might be income independent of the government and indeed be self-supporting.

The EPIC board prepared a master plan. That plan was put to government. The Stanhope government has been considering this plan for several years, and what we learnt in estimates this year is that finally the Chief Minister has announced that EPIC will not have access to the additional block of land as requested. This must be an extremely disappointing outcome for the board of the Exhibition Park Corporation, given the work and the time that has been put into it, and it must be an extremely disappointing outcome for the current and potential users of the EPIC site. A number of events at the site are now constrained by the size of the site and by the type and variety of accommodation on the site.

The EPIC board was attempting to develop the facility into a sound commercial entity and this is being thwarted by the government—a government that would appear not to have any vision for the EPIC facility. The pathetic excuse from the Stanhope government—that the EPIC board does not need any additional land, for example, because the government will continue to fund capital works on the site—must be also disappointing. More particularly, rather than the government’s funds enhancing the activities of EPIC, the government is in fact going to take the idea that the EPIC board itself has developed and look at developing the land itself for sale for those future uses.

So the board is being thwarted by not being able to expand its site and enhance its capacity for campers, grey nomads and other people who attend functions there, the public are being thwarted from having a better facility, and the long-term future of EPIC is now being constrained by a government that appears to be totally uninterested in the work that the board has done. It is a shame that the government has taken this position and I would hope that it might reconsider it.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Minister for the Environment, Water and Climate Change, Minister for the Arts) (1.17 am): I do wish to acknowledge the point that Mr Smyth makes about the master plan and the future of EPIC. The government has taken very seriously plans which the EPIC board have relayed to the government in relation to its view or vision for the future.

EPIC does have a great future. It is a significant ACT community asset. It is managed on behalf of the community by a board appointed by the ACT government, it provides advice to the government and it is appropriate that the government accept or reject

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