The Liberals didn’t publicly announce plans to hand Canberra Racing Club a multimillion dollar annual funding boost because they didn’t have time, leader Alistair Coe has suggested.
It came as Mr Coe was peppered with questions on Thursday about his party’s apparent softening in their position on overturning the ACT’s greyhound racing ban and cannabis laws.
Mr Coe attempted to use Thursday’s announcement of plans to freeze commercial rates for two years to once again focus the ACT election debate on cost of living.
The Liberals didn’t publicly announce the commitment, which would have been worth more than $2 million this year based on the income generated from the gambling tax. It was left to The Canberra Times to break news of the promise, which Labor and the Greens have opposed.
Mr Coe backed the pledge on Thursday, saying the racing industry was a significant employer in the territory.
When asked why the Liberals hadn’t publicised the commitment, he indicated it was because the party was too busy.
“There are of course many, many things that happen in the course of this campaign,” Mr Coe said.
“We know that this campaign is very busy, COVID really has compressed everything that we are doing into a very sort period.”
Mr Coe faced a string of questions about where the Opposition stood on the future of greyhound racing and the ACT’s cannabis laws, after the Liberals declared neither would be a priority in government. The Liberals had previously vowed to overturn the greyhound ban and cannabis legislation if elected in 2020.
Asked to confirm whether the greyhound ban would be reversed under a Liberal government, Mr Coe reiterated that his highest priority was to reduce cost of living for struggling families.
When pressed, he said a Liberal government would consult with the greyhound racing industry about the future of the sport in the ACT. He then repeated the party’s “lower taxes, better services” mantra.
Greens leader Shane Rattenbury said the Liberals needed to come clean about whether they intended to allow the sport to restart in the nation’s capital.