James Boyce Federal Hotels continues to treat the Tasmanian Parliament and community with contempt
ALTHOUGH THEIR predictable bluster and considerable advertizing muscle seems to have again frightened the media into premature silence, there can be no doubt that there has been a clear violation of the undertakings they made in 2003 during their successful campaign to secure passage of their monopoly pokies contract without Legislative Council amendment or proper review.
Some friendly interviews with the Treasury boss and Federal management by the Public Account Committee was the only scrutiny the pokies Bill received (no one else other than MPs were permitted to present evidence to the Committee except in written form).
During his evidence, on 16 July 2003, Greg Farrell informed the PAC that there would be about 180 people employed directly at the new resort the company was building on the site of the old Coles Bay caravan park (This can be confirmed by anyone through Hansard – available on line). He threatened that if the Parliament sought to modify his company’s pokies deal the development would be substantially downgraded.
Nearly five years on (and long after when the pokies contract specified project construction was to begin), the resort has been downgraded anyway, yet the Tasmanian community is stuck with a contract which delivers, on Citigroup estimates, a hundred million dollar plus government subsidy to the company, and, according to the Government’s own research, untold suffering to thousands of Tasmanian families.
We are continually told that the Government cannot renege on its deal with Federal to help out the thousands of problem gamblers or provide much needed public revenue to the state through setting a full market price for the licence. Why then can Federal do as it pleases with its undertakings?
This new project will not be providing anything like 180 direct jobs.
Federal must be asked how many people will be directly employed, and what is the status of the assurances provided to Parliament in 2003.
And surely the Legislative Council itself must now act to restore its integrity and independence by reviewing the pokies deal, or accept the common judgement that it has become a sadly beholden institution.
On Tasmanian Times: Tasmanian writer and social policy analyst James Boyce has written extensively on the outrageous deal between Federal Hotels and Bacon-Lennon Labor: Read the definitive analysis HERE
Earlier: Pokies: cut the rollout