Tasmanian Greens leader Nick McKim has confirmed his party will support the Opposition’s bill to stop the State Government from selling state-owned betting agency TOTE Tasmania.
The chairman of the Lower House committee investigating the TOTE’s future, Greens MP Kim Booth, has tabled an interim report calling for the Parliament to immediately debate the Liberal bill.
It follows revelations the Government is again seeking buyers and confirmation that several companies are interested.
Mr Booth has rejected the Premier Lara Giddings’ accusation it is a purely political move.
“I would suggest that her decision to effectively undermine the committee and proceed to sell TOTE, not withstanding the fact that they in fact supported the the setting of the committee in the first place to investigate whether it’s an appropriate thing to do or not, is more of a political move on her behalf.”
“It’s grossly arrogant of the Premier,” he said.
The Opposition has vowed to bring the bill on for debate tomorrow.
• TOTE SALE ON HOLD
Kim Booth MP
Greens Forestry Spokesperson
The Tasmanian Greens have today secured a guarantee from the Premier to put the sale of Tote Tasmania on hold until November 23 this year, to allow the Parliamentary Inquiry chaired by Kim Booth MP more time to hear critical evidence, and for the 2010-11 TOTE Tasmania Annual Report to be made public.
Greens Racing spokesperson Kim Booth MP said Treasury had provided advice this morning, and it was clear that matters of vital relevance to the State’s sale process have not yet gone on the public record, and that the Committee would need more time to hear evidence from Treasury.
Mr Booth said that as a result of the Premier’s undertaking, the Greens had made a unanimous decision to move to adjourn debate on the Liberals’ Tote Sale Repeal Bill until all current evidence has been fully examined.
“This is a sincere attempt by the Greens to give all elected representatives more time to become fully informed and to consider circumstances relating to TOTE that haven’t yet been made public,” Mr Booth said.
“This should not be taken to mean that the Greens will not support the Liberals’ Repeal Bill when it is debated on November 23rd. If the Bill passes then the TOTE will not be able to be sold, unless the Upper House rejects the legislation.”
“The Greens are not backing away from our policy opposing on the sale of TOTE, we are simply looking for clean space and time for the Parliamentary Committee to ensure that all relevant and current information has been brought to the attention of all elected representatives.”
“The Greens want this Repeal Bill to be debated, and we want that to occur this year. However we do not want that debate to be compromised by the lack of current and pertinent information, just because we feel we have to rush debate to avoid it being pre-empted by a Treasury sale.”
“For example, the Tote Tasmania Annual Report has not even been revealed publicly yet, and clearly that should have relevant information to this debate.”
“It would be irresponsible to decide the fate of a public asset without all current and relevant information. This move today preserves the status quo and provides the breathing space for the best possible decision to be made.”
“Had the Premier been prepared to give this same guarantee last week in Parliament and to the Committee then the debate today would not have been necessary, however the Greens welcome the Premier’s undertaking given today.”
“This does not mean that the Sale Repeal Bill should not proceed, merely that the Treasurer has now recognised the primacy of Parliament and the importance of the Committee’s part in this process.”
“I am committed as Chair of the Committee to try to gain sufficient and current evidence to give a recommendation to the House before the negotiated deadline of the 23rd of November this year.”
“The pressure is now on for the Treasurer to justify why it is that TOTE should be sold.”
1) Letter from Greens Leader Nick McKim MP to the Premier, 26 October 2011, (2pgs);
2) Letter from the Premier responding to Greens Leader Nick McKim MP, 26 October 2011, (1pg).