Saturday, June 09, 2007

"Rotto Inc": blast from past

From Hansard, 14 November 2000…
440. Hon N.D. GRIFFITHS to the Minister for Tourism:

(1) Was the minister accurately reported in The West Australian today in the article headed "Rotto hotel: Minister in dark" as admitting he had no idea what the proposed redevelopment of the Rottnest Island hotel site would be like?
(2) Was he accurately reported as saying about the proposal by the Swan Brewery, "I do know it meets what the vast majority of people want at Rottnest"?
(3) Does the minister know what is being proposed; and, if so, when did he find out?
(4) Why was a concept plan not put out for public comment?
(5) Will the minister assure the House that this will not be another case of changing the parameters of design and financing after the closure of the tender process, as he did with the convention centre?

Hon N.F. MOORE replied:
(1)-(5) The end part of the question is totally wrong; there have been no changes to the financing arrangements for the convention centre. I wish the Opposition would learn how these processes work. There are two ways to go about having a convention centre built or renovating the Rottnest Hotel. The first is that the Government could decide that this is what it wanted to do, have the government architect design it and then call for tenders to build it. The other process, which many Governments in other parts of Australia and the world have used increasingly, is to seek input from the private sector through architects and developers, and to call for expressions of interest. The Government outlines its parameters at the expressions of interest stage. People then make submissions based on those expressions of interest and the criteria contained therein. Governments then choose the proponents whose expressions of interest meet its basic requirements. It then goes through a request for proposal stage, when proponents are asked to refine their expressions of interest to a proposal document. From those proposals the Government chooses the preferred proponent. The preferred proponent is then given the opportunity to turn the proposal into a contract. At the end of the day, if the Government accepts the contract, assuming that it is based on the criteria the Government set out in the first place, it can agree to the contract. That is what has happened with the convention centre and what is happening with the Rottnest Hotel. The Rottnest Island Authority, being a statutory authority, is responsible for leasing all sorts of property on Rottnest. It is responsible for leasing the Rottnest Hotel to the previous lessee, who walked away with $957 000 of taxpayers' money about two months ago thanks to a contract entered into by the previous Labor Government.

Hon Greg Smith: How much?

Hon N.F. MOORE: It was $957 000. The Opposition is critical of a Government that is going through the proper processes to get a proper result. The people who gave us that hotel contract are now being critical. I cannot believe it!

However, in respect of the Rottnest Hotel, the Rottnest Island Authority put the proposition to me as minister that it would like to call for expressions of interest, have a request for proposals stage and then pick the best option from the private sector to develop and to run the hotel. I agreed to that process. During the process, it has informed me of what has taken place in broad terms; in other words, it has said that it has had 10 proponents and one has dropped off or that it had five at one stage but one dropped off. It has said who the proponents are. I have not been involved in any of the decision making. The Rottnest Island Authority is the decision-making body. It is proper that it should make the decision. However, it will come to me when it has a contract with the preferred proponent or somebody else. If the contract meets the Government's requirements and the requirements of the process, Cabinet will make a decision.

Hon Peter Foss: The Labor Party's minister would fix it up with his mates and then go to Cabinet.

Hon N.F. MOORE: That is exactly right. I am dying to know the intricacies of the previous 10-year lease on the Rottnest Hotel. In my retirement, I shall spend a lot of time looking at the documentation surrounding it. There is a serious scandal there. Added to all the other things I have told this House about Rottnest, somebody could write a very thick book called "Rotto Inc". It started in 1983 and finished in 1993. Since then the place has been straightened out and fixed up. We are going through proper processes. It is proper that the minister does not get involved in making decisions about who will get a particular contract. However, at the end of the day, Cabinet will decide whether it agrees with what the process has produced. I really hope that one day the Opposition will sit down and try to understand that this is a proper process which is used by many people.

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