Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 21 September 2010) . . Page.. 4173 ..
to deliver great events, such as the recent Masterpieces from Paris exhibition, the biggest blockbuster ever held in our country. That is why, of course, we will continue to invest in appropriate research to ensure our tourism industry and the broader community continue to get the best outcome for taxpayers’ money.
MR SMYTH (Brindabella), by leave: I thank the minister for providing me with an advance copy of his statement on the day of the last sitting week when it was meant to be delivered. We have had three weeks notice, so that is fine. I need to set out some of the interesting background to this still secret report. It has arisen, in part, out of the fiasco that has become the “now you see it, now you don’t” proposed new autumn event.
It is well documented that the Labor Party made a commitment in the lead-up to the 2008 election for a new autumn event and that after the election no-one in the government had any idea what to do about this commitment. Material released to me through an FOI clearly shows that staff in Australian Capital Tourism struggled to make any sense of this commitment. Indeed, the commitment, as we all know, was saved—if you could say that—by the National Gallery obtaining the artworks for the Masterpieces from Paris exhibition. The Labor Party contributed half a million dollars to the marketing of this exhibition.
Mr Corbell: The ACT government did.
MR SMYTH: The ACT government, the Labor Party—it is your commitment. This was announced as the first year of the new autumn event and was quite clearly set out in the brief to the minister of 7 August 2009. What we had was an event that turned up by accident for the ACT government and which became the proposed new autumn event. It is quite interesting that the FOI received states, “To brief you on the announcement of the NGA’s landmarks exhibition and the ACT government’s partnership for year one of ‘the autumn event’.”
The first year of the autumn event was in 2010. It started in 2009, apparently, but according to the minister it is now intended for 2011 onwards. I have complete sympathy for anyone who is confused about what this minister thinks he is doing. Indeed, we now know that the National Gallery exhibition that was held between December 2009 and April 2010 had nothing to do with the continuing new autumn event. Indeed, it was only an accident that it was held partly in autumn this year at all. Indeed, it started in the summer of 2009. So the summer 2009 event is now categorised as the autumn 2010 event. It is curious.
I will not go into any more detail about the chaos that has surrounded and which continues to surround what the proposed new autumn event might be. If people want to see some of the documents, they can come and see me later. I will now turn our focus to the role of Ernst & Young in this matter.
I start by emphasising that confusion reigns all around this mess. The minister said in his statement today that Australian Capital Tourism commissioned Ernst & Young in March 2009 to research and report on the events assistance program and the proposed autumn concept for 2011 onwards. I emphasise the timing: the consultant was