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Monday, 20 June 2005
Page: 182

Mr JOHN COBB (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Transport and Regional Services) (7:53 PM) —I might go back to where I was when I was interrupted. The member for New England brought up what he felt were questions to be answered about the equine centre. Basically, this government had two different proposals, both were about an equine centre and both were to be sited at Tamworth. The original proposal put up in 2001 wanted $3½ million towards a proposed $21 million to $24 million project. That was provided to Professor John Chudleigh for an independent review—as to whether it was a goer, in effect. Advice to government was that it was not. Further work was done on this proposal, taking into account Professor Chudleigh’s findings, and a second proposal was provided to the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, Minister Anderson, in 2004.

The second proposal had very serious key changes that did address all the concerns raised by Professor Chudleigh. There was a review of the scale of the original proposal and a minor relocation to take into account an existing exhibition facility, saving an estimated $10 million. The original proposal in 2001 and the one announced by the minister were like chalk and cheese. The first was pie in the sky; the second was a serious proposal with management costs and the whole lot done. So, despite what the member for New England may wish to find on this one, he will not find anything. It was subject to total due process and was seen to be a manageable, sustainable project, whereas the original one certainly was not. Therefore, one was knocked back and the other one was approved.

On the issue of the national centre for maths, science and information at the University of New England, despite what the opposition, the member for New England or anyone else want to believe about the project being approved overnight or in three days—or 24 hours, as I think the member for Wills tried to say—this project was funded for just under $5 million, GST inclusive, under Regional Partnerships in June 2004. It is subject to stringent conditions to ensure its long-term viability. The project is currently on target to meet the contracted milestones, with a full progress report and drafts of the business plans received in January this year. The state based hubs have been contracted, and it is great to note that a hub will be established this year in each state and territory. Minister Anderson’s colleague, the Minister for Education, Science and Training, has also approved additional funding for the centre to undertake research in relation to attracting and retaining teachers in rural and regional schools. I apologise to those members whose questions I am unable to answer. I will endeavour to get them information on those as soon as possible.