Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 7 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 1942..
MS GALLAGHER: I am just pointing out that no-one on your side seemed particularly concerned about a Patricia Piccinini hot-air balloon in September but now—
Mr Hanson interjecting—
MADAM SPEAKER: Order, Mr Hanson!
Mr Barr interjecting—
MS GALLAGHER: the concern is immense; that is what I see. The ACT government has commissioned a number of different pieces through the centenary. We have spent $24½ million of ACT government money on the centenary celebrations. That has included things like $500,000 on the one day international, $300-odd thousand on the fireworks and the finale, about $165,000 on the Canberra symphony, the same on the ballet. There has been a whole range of elements to the centenary program. The balloon, commissioned from a young woman who was educated here in Canberra and developed her love of the arts here in Canberra, was part of that commission.
In relation to the cost of the balloon, this was allocated through the centenary fund. So yes, the balloon cost $172,000. The question, incidentally, that the journalist asked Mr Lasek was: what was the cost of the balloon? So I do not think there was any sort of shock, horror that it was uncovered. There were additional costs relating to the balloon which will be determined by the end of the centenary year. That has been capped at $300,000, as we explained in annual reports hearings on Friday.
With respect to the issue of ownership of the balloon, if we had retained ownership of the balloon it would have required that we retain an operating budget for that balloon, including ongoing maintenance of the balloon, and a pilot for the balloon. We took extensive advice from the Government Solicitor and it was determined that the ACT government does not want to have ongoing ownership of the Patricia Piccinini balloon and instead the way to engage with this particular piece of art during the centenary year was through a sponsorship arrangement. Those documents are available for people to peruse and I am very comfortable that all appropriate steps were taken around the commissioning of this piece of art.
MADAM SPEAKER: Before we go on, Mr Barr, would you like to withdraw that comment you made across the chamber to Mr Hanson?
Mr Barr: I withdraw, Madam Speaker.
MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you. Supplementary question, Mr Seselja.
MR SESELJA: Chief Minister, how can ratepayers be sure that the ACT government will cap the costs of this project at $300,000 given that as recently as Thursday you were claiming that it would cost $172,000?