Eastern Creek Raceway
EASTERN CREEK RACEWAY
The Hon. JAN BURNSWOODS: My question without notice is directed to the Treasurer, Minister for Energy, Minister for State Development, Minister Assisting the Premier, and Vice-President of the Executive Council. Can the Minister tell the House the cost of Eastern Creek Raceway and associated areas? What is the Government's plan for the future of Eastern Creek?
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: I assure the honourable member and the House that there would be enormous scope for tax deductions, including payroll tax deductions, if the people of this State were not lumbered with the enormous bill associated with Eastern Creek. We were assured by former Premier Nick Greiner that Eastern Creek would cost the taxpayers of New South Wales no more than $2 million. The Council on the Cost of Government has established that the true cost of Eastern Creek and associated areas has reached $135 million. But that is not the end of the matter. That amount is what we have spent so far. As Treasurer I am concerned that debt servicing charges alone associated with Eastern Creek are another $4 million each and every year; $4 million that could have been spent on schools or hospitals, or could have provided more judges or built more roads; $4 million just pays the interest bill. It is an absolute scandal.
The Government has decided to contract out the operation of the Eastern Creek Raceway and to lease the facility to a private operator, as I promised before the election. In fact, I believe I specifically said that we would privatise Eastern Creek. The operations of Eastern Creek will be leased to a private operator. The property adjacent to the raceway, known as the Reen property, will also be leased to a developer for motor sport related purposes at a commercial rate of return. Honourable members would be aware that when the Government took office it referred the Eastern Creek issue to the Council on the Cost of Government to investigate its full cost and future operations.
The advantage of this action is that there should be no further taxpayer expenditure on Eastern Creek after the 1996 Grand Prix commitments. In the medium term the aim is to receive some return on investment on the raceway and a commercial rate of return on any new development on the Reen property. In the long term, the underlying capital value of the land will ensure that the Government retains a valuable asset for the community. The advantage of these actions, apart from the immediate cost, is that the Government is no longer required to outlay further funds on the raceway, there will be no further financial risk, we will achieve some rate of return, and the people of New South Wales will continue to have access to a high standard motor sport facility.