State wants equity control

DESPITE talking about having Perth’s Convention and Exhibition Centre built with private money, the WA Government is taking an equity position in it.

In response to Opposition questions in Parliament, Tourism Minister Norman Moore revealed the Government was considering taking equity in the project.

Mr Moore believes that the centre will revert to Government ownership after 35 years anyway.

The Government has put in $100 million towards the convention centre. It has also put up $10 million towards a rectangular-pitch sports stadium.

Deputy Labor Leader Eric Ripper said the WA Government had misled taxpayers about the true nature of its support for the centre.

“The Government has always maintained the $110 million and land worth $75 million it intends to give Multiplex was a grant in recognition of the supposed economic benefits to the State of a new convention centre facility,” Mr Ripper said.

“Mr Moore’s answer does not rule out the equity position requiring further financial support for the project or leaving the State liable for a share of operating losses in a venture the Government admits is unlikely to make a profit.

“This is a staggering backflip from a Government that always maintained Government should not be in bed with business.

“The privatisation pirates are now convention centre cowboys.

“A Government which says it should have no role in a public utility such as AlintaGas is now seeking to part-own a convention centre.

“It is astounding the equity issue has now only emerged after months and months of debate on the convention centre and the recent selection of the preferred bidder.”

However, the CEO of the WA Tourism Commission, Shane Crockett, said the equity was solely another control mechanism Government had its disposal.

“The Government’s position has always been no risk,” Mr Crockett said.

The Government has two main control mechanisms – the lease and when it pays its funds.

Through the lease, the Government has set up key performance indicators that Multiplex and the centre operator have to meet. Failure to meet these requirements would result in monetary penalties.

The Government has also said it will only pay instalments of its $100 million as certain parts of the centre are completed.

Mr Crockett claimed the Government’s equity position would not leave it liable for any losses from the centre.

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