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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 10 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 3002..

Floriade - Resignation of Chairman

MR WHITECROSS (Leader of the Opposition) (6.09): Mr Speaker, I rise in the adjournment debate to note that this afternoon we heard that the chairman of Floriade, Geoffrey Zuber, has resigned on the eve of the most prestigious event in Canberra's calendar. The chairman of Floriade sought an interview with the Minister and told him he does not want to work for him any more.

Mr De Domenico: No; hold on. He spoke to me. You were not there when he spoke to me. That is a lie.

MR WHITECROSS: There would not be a single person in Canberra, Mr Speaker, who has the misfortune to have to deal with Mr De Domenico - - -

Mr De Domenico: That is a lie.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr De Domenico, withdraw the word "lie".

Mr De Domenico: I withdraw the word "lie" and say that Mr Whitecross is telling porky pies, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: No, no; come on! It is 6.10 pm. We have had a long day.

Mr De Domenico: I withdraw "porky pies" and suggest that he should tell the whole truth.

MR SPEAKER: Thank you.

MR WHITECROSS: The whole truth. Well, I am working on that, Mr Speaker.

There would not be a single person in Canberra, Mr Speaker, who has the misfortune to deal with Mr De Domenico as a Minister on a regular basis who would be surprised that someone who works for him is resigning. There is no doubt that there is an element of truth, Mr Speaker, in Mr Zuber's stated reason for quitting, which is that he wants to devote more time to his business. I am sure he does. But would you not think that, having done all the hard work for 12 months, you would hang on for a couple of weeks longer until you had seen the fruition of your work, Mr Speaker?

Mr Speaker, you have to ask yourself some questions about the timing of his resignation now. Would you not wonder whether it might have something to do with the fact that this Minister, at the last minute, well after all the planning was under way, well after all the important decisions were made in the tourism industry, made this last minute decision to attempt to extract every last dollar from visitors to Canberra's favourite family event? He argued rightly that Floriade is not only a major tourist event, but a special event for Canberrans, and that charging for car parking would be a massive disincentive. His resignation came on the heels of the Minister's decision, a decision which we all know, Mr Speaker, has infuriated both the hotel industry and the tourism industry. Mr Speaker - - -

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