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Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1985)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1985)


Debates for 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Wednesday 27 February 1985 essence of our motion today. Through that press release, which was carefully designed and worded, the honourable Chief Minister gave a very clear impression to everybody in the Northern Territory that no public money was being spent on the casi.nos. Of course, that was what the press release was designed to do. It succeeded but OIrily until after the election campaign when, on 25 January, because of forthcoming government publications, the Chief Minister had to come clean to some extent. Secondly, he ran the terrific line that the government has reserves available for investment in the Northern Territory and, if it uses them properly and receives the proper return, it does not matter where it puts those reserves. We have no objection to that. However, we do object to giving $2.5m with no prospect of return. It is a gift. Where is the return on the investment of that $2.5m to the taxpayer of the Northern Territory? As well as that, we have another $2m that the government has given away and it expects, sometime in the next 15 years, to have that money repaid with interest. Even now, after the Chief Minister says he has come clean, we still do not have details of that. As well as that, we have a figure of $800 000 which was used to pay the interest bill for Federal Hotels. Where is the return on the taxpayers' investment there? There are many unanswered questions. Mr Speaker, the second part of our censure motion, and the part I want to concentrate on first, is the ineptness of the Chief Minister in carrying out these negotiations with the new casino operators. I want to start by looking at the assistance that this government has given to the casino operators, the trust and everybody else to get them off the ground. Let us look at the loan of $21m. This $21m quite clearly represents nothing more than bridging finance. It was taxpayers' money which was provided from at least 14 November 1984 until 22 February 1985. That is more than 3 months. That it is bridging finance is demonstrated in 2 statements by Mr Jim Moore of the NTDC. On 25 January, at that now infamous press conference, in response to a question on the delays being experienced by Henry and Walker in getting its contributions, he said: 'Henry and Walker, of course, has shopped around to try and get the best deal it could on its money'. Secondly, he said: 'For this process, which admittedly has taken us a while longer than we wished, there have been a number of reasons mainly to do with Henry and Walker negotiating its money and getting its money on the best possible terms'. Later, Mr Moore gave us an even clearer idea of the process undertaken by Henry and Walker. He claimed at the press conference that it did not seriously begin to look for its $16m until after 16 November and only then did it enter into negotiations with several banks to refine rates and obtain competitive quotes. Of course, that is good business but what is not good business is waiting 6 months after it was formally told that it would be an important partner in the whole project before trying to get its money together. It is quite clear that it was not bothered by normal commercial practice relating to bridging finance because it had the Northern Territory Treasury as its banker. It knew the Northern Territory government would tide it over with bridging finance while it bumbled along at the last moment trying to raise the money. In this context, it is obvious that the government has used the FIRB argument as a red herring. Mr Moore, again on behalf of the government, argued that Henry and Walker was hampered in its fund-raising because the FIRB interim order was not revoked until mid-December and, at Christmas, he subsequently intervened in its negotiations with the 2 banks. On behalf of the government or on behalf of the Chief Minister probably, Mr Moore is simply 34