Territory Stories

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 options for Aspinall and Greate Bay, together with units set aside for Territory and other Australian interests, $5m. That makes a total of $28m. Initial unit holders in the Territory Property Trust are guaranteed an annual 10% return with CPI after 2 years. Apart from Aspinall and Greate Bay, all unit holders may redeem their units at par value after 5, years which may be extended to 8 years at the option of the government. This return will come from rental paid to the trust by the operators and will be calculated from the date of subscription; that is, with no backdating of entitlement. Provision exists for the government to waive the gambling tax of 8%, if necessary, and to provide make-up payments by way of loans. Mr Speaker, the trust has entered into an agreement with the Australian Bank for $30.35m which includes the warehousing of the $5m on behalf of Aspinall/Greate Bay and Territory/Australian interests mentioned above. It also includes $3m in funds necessary for the renovation and refurbishing of the casinos and for other expenses. Funds were also used for the initial purchase of gambling plant and equipment which, together with the consumables, have now been paid for by the operators. Mr Speaker, much play has been made about the use of government funds for the initial purchase. The Federal Hotels Casinos (Compensation) Act required the government to pay Federals. The trust then reimbursed the government. I will return to this issue later. Initial security for the agreement was a guarantee from the government. This guarantee is being extinguished now that the trust subscriptions are in place and replaced by new mortgages in favour of the bank over the properties, together with an NTDC indemnity. The government mortgage, taken to secure the purchase price in the first instance and the short-term loans of the NTDC in the second, will be released as there are no moneys now owing to the government. It has been alleged that officers of the government and private individuals who are members of, or unit holders in, Fernbank and Abington have been beneficiaries of the casino transactions. This is not true. It is important that everybody understands operations of this nature. As is usual with trusts throughout Australia, there are 2 primary entities: one is a passive trust company whose sole responsibilities are as trustee for the unit holders and the other is a management company. Fernbank Pty Ltd is the trustee for the properties. It is totally owned by Territory interests, the shareholders being Henry and Walker and the NTDC. Let me be perfectly clear that those shareholders in that capacity have no proprietary interest in the casino properties. The trust owns the casino properties and the unit holders own the trust. Abington Pty Ltd is the trust management company. It has active responsibility for the day-to-day conduct of the affairs of the trust. The shareholders of that company are officers of the government. Its costs are met by the trust. That company is controlled by the government through the NTDC and this mechanism allows the government to maintain a close watch over the affairs of the trust and, more particularly, through the lease arrangement, over the operations of the casino operators. Subject to the introduction of alternative controls, Abington will be handed over to private enterprise operation. Again, let me be perfectly clear that Abington's shareholders have no proprietary interest in the casino properties and in no way are beneficiaries. Though the nature of the responsibilities of management companies may vary from place to place, in the Territory situation, the management responsibility for the operation of the day-to-day affairs of the casino rests with the operators and not with the trust or the management company. This limits the overall expenses of the trust. It is absolutely imperative that people 20