Written on 4/10/11 By Recentpoker.com staff writer Anthony Aperman :
Selling the family silver to balance the books, Opposition accuses
The media in the Australian territory of Tasmania is reporting that the state government is about to put the Tote up for sale again as the budget deficit widens.
Acting Treasurer Bryan Green told the territory's parliament this week that the government had no intention of repealing the legalization that enables it to sell the gambling business because of budget concerns.
Former treasurer Michael Aird's attempt to sell the asset three years ago failed in the midst of the global financial crisis, costing the public purse nearly A$3 million.
The government claimed as recently as November that it was committed to ensuring the company remained in public hands and would seek to rescind the legalization.
However, Green said the state's current financial crisis outlined by Premier Lara Giddings had forced the government's hand.
"In the current fiscal environment, the government needs to maintain maximum flexibility; that is true with respect to the ownership options for Tote," he said.
"We can say on the public record that we do not intend to repeal the Tote Tasmania Act 2009 at this stage. We need to maintain maximum flexibility."
Opposition politicians characterised any attempt to dispose of the Tote as "selling the family silver to balance the books."
Spokesman Peter Gutwein said: "The racing industry and the Tasmanian people are rapidly losing patience with the government's lack of honesty about the future of Tote."
Last year the government received a dividend of A$10 million from Tote operations – substantially less than expected.
Experts assessed possible sales numbers for the disposal of the operation at anywhere between a minimum of A$100 million and a top end of around A$400 million