Turf club defends project
THE Darwin Turf Club has defended the use of taxpayers’ money to build its $12 million grandstand.
The club, however, would not comment on the appropriateness of Chief Minister Michael Gunner’s former chief of staff Alf Leonardi helping it
draft a letter to ministers asking for cash to fund the project.
In a statement released last night, the club said it “cannot comment on whether the advice Mr Leonardi provided from within his position is appropriate or not”.
“DTC and its chairman had no reason to doubt the course suggested to it by Mr Leonardi to get the submission process going,” the statement read.
“Once the letters had been sent, DTC management were directed to Department of Trade and Business staff to provide submissions, business plans, and further consultation, which we did.”
A Freedom of Information request from the ABC revealed Mr Leonardi helped draft a letter which the turf club used parts of to lobby ministers for the grandstand. Mr Leonardi exchanged several emails with club chairman Brett Dixon in January last year — six months before Cabinet approved the grant. Mr Gunner said on Friday Mr Leonardi’s actions were “inappropriate” and denied knowing anything about what he had done before the FOI request was made last month. The club said the project would help “deliver a real return for the Territory economy” both during and after construction. The club said the project would not have been possible without the $12 million grant. It added the project would entice people to the Top End during the Darwin Cup Carnival – injecting millions into the economy. “The project is well underway and the grandstand is already 75 per cent booked, mainly to visitors that will spend millions in the community over Cup week,” the statement read. The company Mr Dixon part-owns, Jaytex, won the tender to construct the grandstand. No wrongdoing was uncovered in an independent audit of the tender process.