Government pays $300,000 contribution to Lasseters

p2158-Lasseters-Convention By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

The NT Government is paying an “operating contribution” of $300,000 this financial year to Lasseters hotel, casino and convention centre (at right), owned by a company based in Malaysia.

 

“This funding is designed to increase the number of conventions attracted to Alice Springs, which has benefits for the tourism industry in Alice Springs and beyond and the wider economy,” says Tourism NT.

 

It would not disclose previous operating contributions it has paid, nor any formula for their size, nor whether these contributions would continue.

 

The Alice Springs News Online has sought information about numbers of conventions and attendees from Tourism Central Australia and the Convention Centre management.

 

Both were unresponsive despite a clear obligation to disclose to the public the results achieved by the funding it has provided.

 

Tourism Minister Matt Conlan, in a media release, said the “lucrative” business events sector is “worth an estimated $89 million to the NT economy each year,” but gave no details about the Alice Springs centre.

 

By contrast, NT Treasury, which was involved in funding the Convention Centre until 2007, provided comprehensive details: “Under the 2000 development agreement for the Alice Springs Convention Centre (ASCC), the Territory Government contributed $9.1 million to the construction and a further $0.7 million for pre-opening marketing.

 

“No further construction assistance was provided.

 

“The arrangements provided that Lasseters must operate the Centre for 20 years from 2002, after which it will be free to use the facilities as it sees fit.

 

“The contributions were structured to encourage Lasseter’s to increase the number of delegates to Alice Springs for conventions, with the objective of benefiting all Alice Springs tourism businesses.

 

“Lasseter’s would benefit most if it succeeded in maximising delegate numbers in the centre’s early years.

 

“The idea was to ensure that the ASCC became well established in Australia’s conventions market.

 

“This assistance ended in June 2007.”

 

Lasseters – including the casino – and the Convention Centre make up a “single multi-purpose facility,” according to Fred Finch, a director of Ford Dynasty Pty Ltd, in whose ASIC company extract Lasseter Holdings Pty Ltd is listed as the Ultimate Holding Company.

 

He estimates the replacement value of the entire facility at $300m, including $40m spent recently for a health club and more rooms.

 

p2158-convention-centre-1Mr Finch, a retired CLP front-bencher, is the only Australian director of Ford Dynasty Pty Ltd.

 

The addresses given in the ASIC company extract for all the five other directors are in Malaysia.

 

The extract describes Ford Dynasty as a “Large Proprietary Company That Is Not A Disclosing Entity”.

 

But Mr Finch says the Malaysian parent company is listed “on the Singapore Stock Exchange and is therefore … subject to their scrutiny”.

 

Mr Finch told the Alice Springs News Online, in response to our report earlier this month: “Your assumptions regarding forward trade are absurd, as is your estimated ‘capacity’ of the venue.”

 

The – sparse – details about forward trade had come from Lasseter’s publicity manager. Mr Finch did not expand on them.

 

As to the centre’s occupancy rate: we told Mr Finch that we defined 100% occupancy as all seats being occupied every day of the year. On the information provided by Lasseters that put the occupancy rate at less than 6%.

 

We asked him: “What is the industry standard for maximum occupancy – and please quote the source.”

 

Mr Finch did not respond to that question.

 

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8 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Janet Lee
    Posted November 18, 2014 at 1:06 am

    A question to be asked is how much tax is being paid?
    Do they have counsellors to assist with the excessive gambling that takes place?
    What contribution does the company really make to the Alice Springs community?

    View Comment
  2. Mark Wilson
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Many of the struggling (and closing) businesses in town would love to see even a small part of “the action” of the NTG supporting Lasseters. Seems Harold Lasseter was in many ways correct: the gold reef runs from The Esplanade, Darwin to the chosen few.

    View Comment
  3. Mark Wilson
    Posted October 29, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    @3 Observer, the NT Govt is at fault too. It could quite easily insist that the financial support is contingent on support of NT businesses for all developments.

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  4. Roger W Miller
    Posted October 28, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Joh Bjelkie Petersen Politics indeed, Phil Walcott. You, You, You scratch my back! Then I, I, I will scratch my back!

    View Comment
  5. Sean
    Posted October 28, 2014 at 8:01 am

    Another desperate attempt – and waste of money – by Conlan. Simple door knocking would be a lot more effective.
    He would then know just how serious, and in trouble he is.
    Combine this with Giles’ recent Summernats, it’s clear to see they are trying to respond to their own recent personal polling. Not a good result, was it fellas.

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  6. Observer
    Posted October 27, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    It is a shame that the Casino did not even use a NT based builder for their recent redevelopment.
    The Casino thrives or fails on local support, apparently is given taxpayers’ money but is too short sighted to see the damage of awarding major projects to an unknown interstate company.

    View Comment
  7. Bronte Zadow
    Posted October 26, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    This another white elephant. It is a beautiful building which is under-utilized. It is costing tax payers $821 a day. What for?

    View Comment
  8. Phil Walcott
    Posted October 25, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    The political donations inquiry has certainly opened a “can of worms” with regard to activity in the past that could have been corrupt. Independent Member for Nelson, Gerry Wood, was correct in bringing forth this piece of potential legislation.
    Why is the CLP government trying to close it down … really?
    The deflections and distractions is nothing more than “red herring” Joh Bjelkie-Petersen politics played in a desperate attempt to divert attentions away from an excellent piece of public policy.
    How does the NTG know it would “cost $80 million”? Where did that figure come from? What formula was used to generate it?
    The electors are far more savvy than the government gives them credit for.
    If there’s nothing to hide over the past 20 or even four years, what’s the problem?
    What price is open, honest and transparent governance or government? How many former NT politicians since 1978 still living continue to reside in the NT?
    Was their commitment to the people and the place enough to keep them here? Like mining companies who want to come and rort our beautiful Territory with practices like hydraulic fracturing. They’ll “make their money and run” too?

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