Page 720 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 8 April 2014

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enacted, the government will only agree to a sale if it is in the best interests of the territory.

The sale price is expected to yield a net financial benefit to the territory as the successful purchaser is likely to pay a premium to acquire ACTTAB’s totalisator licence and its retail betting network. Ultimately, the sale price will be determined by the competitive tender process and the added value that potential bidders could realise by acquiring ACTTAB.

As the smallest TAB in the country, ACTTAB is becoming increasingly vulnerable to increased competition. ACTTAB does not provide any core government services, but it is exposed to significant commercial risks in a highly competitive wagering market and faces an uncertain future as a stand-alone entity. As it stands, ACTTAB lacks sufficient scale to compete effectively to protect its revenue base. The ACTTAB future options feasibility study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers concluded that the best option for the territory would be to sell the business.

It is evident to everyone that the wagering market has changed dramatically. Before the Victorian TAB was privatised in 1994, the TABs across the country were all government owned. Now there are only two that remain in government hands—one here in the territory, ACTTAB, and the other in Western Australia. There are currently three large totalisator pools controlled by two diverse gaming and gambling companies—Tattersalls and Tabcorp. Although these two companies clearly dominate the domestic market, in recent years the wagering industry has undergone further consolidation of corporate bookmakers, driven by the entry of several major overseas firms who are keen to establish and expand their operations in Australia.

The existing ACTTAB business model has served the territory well for many years. We must, however, now move with the times to avoid the significant commercial risks of an increasingly competitive and dynamic market. The formal sales process is well underway. Deloitte has been appointed as the government’s specialist sales adviser. Expressions of interest were sought from interested parties and preferred bidders have been selected. The government expects to finalise the sale by the end of this financial year.

We have a series of sale criteria to achieve a fair and reasonable price to ensure that the racing industry is not negatively affected, to achieve a timely sale and to ensure that the successful purchaser has the appropriate experience and capacity to operate a wagering business and, importantly, also to ensure employee welfare is considered.

In that context, that is where the government, through the Commerce and Works Directorate, and indeed through the management of ACTTAB, are working closely with the United Services Union who represent members at ACTTAB—not United Voice, as the shadow treasurer implied, I think, twice in his speech. We will consult and work closely with the union who have members in the workforce. With the greatest of respect to United Voice, they do not cover employees in this particular enterprise. I thank members for their support of the bill and ask that it be agreed to in principle.

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