8 June 2021
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Treasurer on the topic of SkyCity Adelaide.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Yesterday, it came to light that Australia's financial regulator, AUSTRAC, had launched an investigation into potential serious noncompliance by SkyCity Adelaide with anti-money laundering and counterterror financial rules. Seven years ago, SkyCity Adelaide signed an agreement with the state government to vary the approved licensing agreement to allow for the massive expansion of its operations that we currently see, which included a requirement to make an up-front payment of $20 million to the SA government when the agreement became binding.
My question to the Treasurer is: in light of the potential serious noncompliance of SkyCity Adelaide with anti-money laundering and counterterror financing rules, is the government concerned about the source of the $20 million up-front payment that was made seven years ago?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer): That question is probably more appropriately addressed to the Leader of the Opposition in the Labor Party because, as I'm sure the member knows, sadly, seven years ago we were languishing in opposition—a long history of 16 years of being in opposition.
The PRESIDENT: Order!
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: The Hon. Mr Hunter, the Hon. Mr Maher and former treasurers would be people who subscribed to those particular arrangements with the Casino, so I think the question is probably best directed to them in relation to the detail of that particular arrangement or deal to which the honourable member refers.
In relation to the overriding important aspect to the member's question, that is, that there have clearly been serious claims made—not claims, I should say—there is now an indication that AUSTRAC, which is the appropriate agency with responsibility for investigating anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing breaches, is conducting an investigation into aspects of SkyCity's operations, and I know that other honourable members have raised this issue before.
Certainly, from the state's viewpoint, the commissioner for business and consumer affairs has made it clear that he has now put his review on hold after discussions with AUSTRAC on the basis that they are the appropriate agency with the appropriate capacity, because these are obviously quite complex investigations that AUSTRAC has the capacity to monitor.
The commissioner's view is that they are the appropriate agency to continue and finalise those investigations and then, ultimately, to report on them. Until the commissioner sees a final report, he has decided, after discussion with AUSTRAC, to put his review on hold until AUSTRAC have completed their negotiations.
Coming back to the issue of that deal seven years ago, I can't offer any more detail because I had no direct knowledge of the discussions.
The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Simms has a supplementary.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Noting the Treasurer's response, will the Treasurer be making inquiries to satisfy this parliament that the relevant rules were complied with by SkyCity Adelaide and, in particular, to ensure that no laundered money was involved with that payment?
The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer): I can certainly seek advice from those who were around seven years ago—those who had the responsibility for monitoring whatever arrangement was entered into. That would obviously be the commissioner, potentially. I will seek advice and bring back any answer that they might be able to provide.
In relation to the source of any money that was paid under the former Labor government, as to whether that was laundered money or not, I'm not sure. I'm sure the commissioner is not in a position to be able to answer that. I think what he's saying is that the appropriate agency to continue the investigation into this is AUSTRAC. They have the capacity to do it. I think they have listed two specific time periods. I think one of them was under the former government and one might have been in the first year of the current government that they were investigating in relation to SkyCity's operations.
I don't think the time periods they referred to go back seven years; that is, the nature of their investigation. I don't know whether that's because they have looked at it and don't believe there were issues of concern at that particular time, which might be possible, or whether there is some other restriction. I can certainly seek to ascertain as to whether there is any restriction on what AUSTRAC can do.
My broad understanding is there is not; that is, if they had concerns about a period of seven years ago when this deal was done with the former Labor government, I don't believe they are restricted from investigating that, but I can certainly take advice on that. Maybe the Hon. Mr Hunter or the Hon. Mr Maher might be able to throw some light on the arrangements that occurred at that particular time.