Page 4012 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 30 October 2013

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Ms Lawder tells me that when she was the CEO of Homelessness Australia she wanted to bring their conference here. Here are an organisation whose headquarters are in Lyneham. They wanted to hold their national conference here in the ACT and they could not because it was not big enough. We are sending business out of the territory because of the failure of this government to deliver adequate convention facilities for the ACT.

If we compare it with their approach to capital metro, apparently capital metro is such a good project that there is no limit to how much money will be spent to build it. We know this from the Treasurer. He said there is no upper limit. Capital metro now has its own organisation. We have one of the highest paid bureaucrats in the territory running it, and there is $18 million in this budget. Capital metro will cost the taxpayer of the ACT every year—if it is ever built; but there will be a subsidy to it every year. A new convention centre will grow the economy and put money back into the coffers every year as well as providing employment in the long term.

That is why it is important now that we say, “The government has not been able to do it. Let’s set up a body that will.” As the CEO of the Business Council says, they have been saying for some years, “Let’s have a trust.” I believe a trust is a way forward. But let us make sure that we get it right and that we make sure that we capitalise, that we keep the expenditure in the territory, that we bring more expenditure into the territory—and it will induce business, because if this is built then hotels will follow it and then, of course, restaurants and other things come with that sort of activity.

This is a very important piece of infrastructure for the future and I commend the motion to the chamber.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Sport and Recreation, Minister for Tourism and Events and Minister for Community Services) (3.56): There is indeed a broad business community consensus around the need for a new convention centre. The Australia forum project has been the catalyst for that particular coalition of support. Indeed, I am tempted to think that if the long list of supporters that Mr Smyth read out would each contribute about five million bucks we would probably be there. However, I do not think it is likely that they have that capacity or that willingness at this stage.

The government, however, has committed to work with stakeholders to progress the Australia forum to the stage that it is investment ready for consortium partners. To help progress this work, the government convened a workshop on 19 and 20 September, in conjunction with the Canberra Business Council and the Canberra Convention Bureau, to identify areas of consensus for the site selection for a new convention centre for the ACT. The objectives of the workshop were to review and confirm the functional requirements for the Australia forum, to test the feasibility of accommodating the functional requirements on the identified potential sites, to evaluate alternative sites and to explore requirements to be investment ready for consortium partners.

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