Tasmanian Times

Economy

Bartlett at the centre of pokies deed

· David Bartlett was at the centre of negotiations to extend Federal Hotels monopoly in 2003 without going to tender

· Public Accounts Committee report tabled yesterday criticizes the government’s handling of issues related to the Deed

· Premier’s claims to be unaware of recommendations smacks of another desperate attempt to stonewall questions

David Bartlett was at the centre of the negotiations that resulted in the State Government granting an extension to the Federal Hotels monopoly pokies deed in an uncontested manner.

His claim today that as the then Treasurer’s Chief of Staff he was nothing more than some sort of “message boy” in these negotiations is laughable.

In a report tabled yesterday, the Public Accounts Committee recommended that an open and transparent tender process should apply to the issuing of gaming licences unless exempted by Parliament.

It was also highly critical of the government’s lack of transparency over changes to Federal Hotels’ resort at Coles Bay that was required to be built as part of the new Deed.

Amongst other things, the report said State Government failed in its duty by not keeping the Tasmanian community informed of variations to the projected timelines and to the substantial change to the nature of the development at Coles Bay, particularly at the time of the third extension.

The State Opposition has welcomed and strongly supports the Saffire development at Coles Bay, but we remain critical of the government’s failure to disclose changes to the public and we asked legitimate questions about these in Parliament. That led to the Public Accounts Committee inquiry and its report has vindicated our concern about the government’s lack of transparency.

David Bartlett has today confirmed that as the then Treasurer’s senior adviser, he was at the heart of the negotiations between the government and Federal Hotels to extend the deed without going to tender.

In light of his intimate involvement in this matter – and the nature of the recommendations in the report – it is extraordinary that he claimed not to be aware of it, even though it was tabled by a member of his own government, Heather Butler, yesterday.

I suspect this is another attempt by the Premier to stonewall questions on a subject he doesn’t like.
Will Hodgman MP Leader of the State Opposition

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