SPORTS LEGISLATION (AMENDMENT) BILL
Debate resumed from 13 October.
The Hon. B. H. VAUGHAN
(Deputy Leader of the Opposition) [5.44]: The alternative government, which is looking all the better after Saturday's 21 per cent swing to the Labor Party, supports the bill. The object of the bill is to amend the Parramatta Stadium Trust Act, the State Sports Centre Trust Act and the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Act to enable each trust to develop and manage sporting facilities not located on land owned by the trust. The bill will also amend the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Act to allow the trust to acquire land for purposes unconnected with land it already owns. The private sector was encouraged to tender for the management of stage one of the Olympic facilities. A satisfactory tender was not forthcoming for the operation of the Sydney International Aquatic Centre and the Sydney International Athletic Centre. The entrepreneurs in this State are finding it difficult to support the present coalition Government.
The tender process was discontinued by the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Racing. If the Hon. R. B. Rowland Smith were still the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Racing the Government might be a lot better off. The Minister, having reviewed the reports of the tender evaluation committee and the covering report made by the Department of Sport, Recreation and Racing, found himself in a difficult position. In the judgment of the department and the Minister, none of the tenders was considered acceptable. Under current legislation, none of the trusts that manage the State's international sports facilities is empowered to manage facilities external to its land-holding. In order to provide caretaker management for the facilities the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Racing - whom we on this side of the House wish was still the Hon. R. B. Rowland Smith - was limited to the option of using the Department of Sport, Recreation and Racing.
The department, as an inner sector budget agency, does not have the flexibility necessary to optimise the potential of those facilities. Furthermore, the Minister currently does not have the power to use the sports facility trusts that have those specialist skills in facility management not normally required by the department - the Minister would not know how to do so if he did have the power. In instances in which the tender process fails or in which an operator of a State-owned sports facility fails it is imperative that the Government have the ability to utilise quickly the expertise of one of the existing trusts in a caretaker role. Those facilities provide an ongoing and public community service, and in instances in which an operator fails the Minister may be unable to wait for the conduct of a tender process or to enact legislation to allow for the appointment of a caretaker operator. In such circumstances it is imperative that the Minister have the ability to utilise quickly the expertise of one of the existing trusts in a caretaker role.
A limited level of private expertise is available to manage the number of international sporting facilities envisaged for Sydney. The fact that only one company had the capacity to tender finally for the management of the stage one facilities is in part evidence of the situation. To ensure the competitiveness necessary in this limited market, it is vital that existing State Government trusts are able to compete on a level playing field - that mythical level playing field - for the management of facilities beyond their current legislative boundaries. The proposed amendment the House is considering today to the legislation covering the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust will enable the Trust to compete in the current call for proposals for the main Olympic stadium. At present, whilst the trusts could tender, the lack of this legislation would not allow them to be awarded a contract. The incoming Labor government of March of next year looks forward with great interest to implementing the legislation. That is why the Opposition supports it now.
The Hon. R. B. ROWLAND SMITH
[5.51]: First I should like to thank the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for his kind remarks.
The Hon. B. H. Vaughan:
The Hon. R. B. ROWLAND SMITH:
I am always available to do anything I can. This is a simple but most important piece of legislation that will hand over to the Sydney Cricket Ground and Sports Ground Trust, the State Sports Centre Trust and the Parramatta Stadium Trust the right to enable the trusts to develop and manage sporting facilities that are not located on land owned by the trust. Part 2, section 5(1) of the Parramatta Stadium Trust Act states that the objects of the trust are, among other things, to care for, control and manage the trust land; to provide and maintain a sporting arena suitable for the conduct of football matches; and to encourage, promote and facilitate the use and enjoyment of the trust land by members of the public. This applies also to the other two trusts: they are able to manage only the facilities on their own land. With Sydney's successful bid for the Year 2000 Olympics, the development and construction of this State's major sporting facilities have to be undertaken. Once completed, the facilities will have to be maintained and managed. Accordingly, experienced professional
managers will be required. The three trusts have demonstrated that they have the desirable attributes to manage and develop sporting facilities. We are most fortunate in this State to have three trusts that are so well conducted. I refer on this point to Sir Nicholas Shehadie, Chairman of the Sydney Cricket Ground and Sports Ground Trust; Mr Harry Hudson, Chairman of the Parramatta Stadium Trust; and Mr Alan Whelpton, Chairman of the State Sports Centre.
The Hon. J. R. Johnson:
Did you say Sir Harry Hudson?
The Hon. R. B. ROWLAND SMITH:
Mr Harry Hudson. The Hon. J. R. Johnson does not listen. I might remind members of the Labor Party that previously we had Mr Brian Bannon, the distinguished member for Rockdale who stood aside for Mr Unsworth so he could enter the lower House. We also had Mr Pat Hills, whom I reappointed as Chairman of the Sydney Cricket Ground and Sports Ground Trust.
The Hon. J. R. Johnson:
With distinguished service.
The Hon. R. B. ROWLAND SMITH:
That is so. That is the whole point about this Government. It feels that if they have done a good job, even if they are members of the ALP, such as Pat Hills and Brian Bannon, they should remain in that position. The trusts also have very good groundsmen who have taken great interest in the upkeep of their grounds. So far as the Sydney Cricket Ground and Sports Ground Trust is concerned, I put on the record my appreciation for Mr Peter Leroy, the ground's manager. The same applies to the new stadium at Parramatta where Mr Graeme Logan is the head curator. Mr Leroy has been at the Sydney Cricket Ground since 1984 and Mr Logan at Parramatta since 1993. The State Sports Centre had a very good director, Bob Elphinston, who is now a senior figure for the Olympics 2000. In respect of the Parramatta Stadium Trust, the format was organised by Mr Ken Brown, Director of the Department of Sport and Recreation who later became a member of the trust. Mr Harry Hudson from James Hardie was chairman, and both gentlemen did an excellent job. The trusts have the expertise to not only manage the existing facilities, but to be in a position to assist in the establishment of other sporting arenas that would be suitable for use in the Olympics 2000. As I said at the outset, this is a simple but important piece of legislation. I support the bill.
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES
[5.55]: I expressed some concern about the Sports Legislation (Amendment) Bill to the Minister's senior policy adviser, John Cruickshank. I asked whether there would be limitations on the borrowings for these agencies and whether we would end up with another Eastern Creek fiasco. Following some investigations Mr Cruickshank pointed out to me that the Treasury Corporation has to approve the borrowings and that the Minister would have to approve the development. I was a little concerned that one of these organisations might go berserk and start to commit tens of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money and we would have to pick up the tab some years down the track. I am assured that that will not happen, but I am still a little nervous about freeing up the trusts to enter into contracts and further developments outside what they have been allowed to do to this point. I think this will need watching.
If the Australian Labor Party were to be elected to government in four months and 27 days time, I am sure it would have to watch events in the same way as the current Minister and the Premier. The developments in which the organisations will become involved and the amount of taxpayers' money they will be committing must be monitored. The expenditure will be monitored and approved, but I hope they do not sign any exorbitant contracts and commit $28½ million to some development for which we have to pick up the tab and have to sell Parramatta Stadium to pay for. Apart from that, I am nervous about freeing up the trusts. I hope the trusts will be monitored and that there is no fiasco further down the track.
The Hon. J. R. Johnson:
Say something nice about the Hon. R. B. Rowland Smith.
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES:
It was very good to have the Hon. R. B. Rowland Smith as Minister for Sport, Recreation and Racing. The way he was treated was shameful. He should have remained the Minister.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE
[5.58]: The Call to Australia group supports the Sports Legislation (Amendment) Bill. This bill will give additional powers to the Sydney Cricket Ground and Sports Ground Trust, the State Sports Centre Trust and Parramatta Stadium Trust to develop land not already under their control. Each trust has an additional object to develop and manage a sporting facility on land which is not trust land. This will provide the opportunity for the trust to make expressions of interest in the development of the Olympic facilities at Homebush Bay. It will then be up to the Olympic Committee to assess whether the trusts have the necessary management skills to care for those sporting facilities. They may or may not. I have never thought of trusts being geared to coping with the Olympic Games, but it may be that they have management skills that can be developed. Therefore, Call to Australia supports the bill.
The Hon. VIRGINIA CHADWICK
[5.59], in reply: I thank all members for their contributions and particularly commend and thank my colleague the Hon. R. B. Rowland Smith for his contribution to this debate. I commend the bill to the House.
Motion agreed to.
Bill read a second time and passed through remaining stages.
[The Deputy-President (The Hon. D. J. Gay) left the chair at 6.00 p.m. The House resumed at 7.30 p.m.