Parliamentary record : Part I debates (27 February 1985)
Debates for 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987
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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Wednesday 27 February 1985 having us on. The FIRB approval was given on 16 November 1984 - not mid-December - and Henry and Walker had a full month longer to raise the money than the government has chosen deliberately to hide behind the FIRB decision to cover Henry and Walker's lethargy in attempting to raise money. From this lethargy, it is obvious that it was made very clear from the start by the government that taxpayers' money would be available as bridging finance to get the deal started. Mr Moore also reveals the high regard Henry and Walker was held in by its partners. Mr Moore assures us that Kumagai Gumi, which had no problem with its money, was not prepared to put its money up until Henry and Walker put up. I am pleased to say that we have been advised in the last week that this money was paid back last Thursday. The point is that Henry and Walker had the benefit of taxpayers' money from the date of payment to Federal Hotels in November until last Thursday - over 3 months. Most importantly, this money was made available to Henry and Walker before the assurance from the Chief Minister on 28 November that no money was diverted from the budget. Quite clearly, in this instance, the Chief Minister deceived the people of the Northern Territory. Mr Speaker, we turn to the question of the $2.5m direct gift, the taxpayers' contribution to the purchase price. This represents a second outrageous part of the scheme. $2.5m was paid for what? For equity? We could have accepted that. Many people have suggested that that is what should have happened. The $2.5m of taxpayers' money effectively was given to the trust for nothing. In other words, it was a gift. This amount arose because Federal Hotels would not settle for less than $49.5m. By November last year, the Chief Minister, as the Leader of the Opposition clearly demonstrated, was desperate to establish his government and to calm the electorate on the eve of the Jingili by-election and the federal election. The price we paid for deceiving the electorate was $2.5m which we have no hope of getting back. The great negotiators had been backed into a corner by the trust. What they had done was to enter into an agreement with the purchasers, guaranteeing a purchase price of $47m without first securing a selling price from the reluctant sellers. It is no good blaming FIRB. Anyone who has been involved in business in the last decade would know that FIRB is part of the business geography of Australia; you can ignore it but only at your own peril. The $2.5m reveals how much had been conceded to the trust and the operators and just how incompetent the Northern. Territory government and its advisers are in dealing with taxpayers' money. Mr Speaker, this $2.5m represents money that should have been available to the government to spend on services for Territorians. It should not have been given to wealthy gamblers. The $2.5m would have earned the Northern Territory some $5.6m in the next 10 years or $12.1m in 15 years. Mr Speaker, that sum of money could have been earning Territorians more than $lm interest per annum. Mr Robertson: If you do not spend anything by the end of the decade, we will all go Mr SMITH: Well, give it away. That is what you have been doing. Mr Robertson: What a brilliant idea. Mr SMITH: Buy a few votes. 35
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