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MR DE DOMENICO: I thank Mr Kaine for his question. Mr Speaker, I find it regrettable that the Federal Government has decided to close the Captain Cook memorial jet throughout the duration of Floriade, until the end of November in fact. Members of the Assembly may or may not be aware that the NCPA has decided to “ground” the jet from today until the end of November - Mr Kaine is correct - to allow installation, I am advised, of two new motors and replacement of the pipeline. As you are all aware, this covers the month of Floriade, which will be from 16 September until 15 October. Ironically, Floriade was launched on Sydney Harbour today, Mr Speaker.

Mr Connolly: That is a good place to launch it.

MR DE DOMENICO: It is, actually. Floriade attracts an estimated half a million visitors each year to Commonwealth Park, where it is located, with half of these being tourists to the ACT. The jet is an integral part of the Canberra landscape and, due to its close proximity to Commonwealth Park, it complements the Floriade landscape during the month-long festival. Mr Speaker, I find it quite appalling, in fact, that no consideration at all was given to the timing of repairs. You would think that the NCPA would at least consult with the Territory Government before going ahead with this decision; but, rather than advise the Government, or even the department, the NCPA has flexed its muscles in the most arrogant fashion. What makes this all the more disgraceful is that the decision will have a direct impact on Floriade. Actions like this merely reinforce the NCPA’s reputation amongst an increasing sector of the community as aloof and autocratic.

While I understand that the jet requires a significant overhaul, and while I am aware that these repairs need to be carried out during the warmer months, I do think that the NCPA should at least review its decision to undertake the work during the month of Floriade. As a result, I have written to the Federal Minister for Housing and Regional Development, Brian Howe - mind you, I do not expect an early response, but I have written to Mr Howe anyway - requesting that the NCPA change its decision to close the jet at this time and, if possible, delay repairs until after 15 October, perhaps until January next year. I will also be ringing Senator McMullan and anybody else I can get hold of who might get Mr Howe to make a decision and not sit on his hands.

If it is not possible to delay repairs, I have asked Mr Howe to arrange for the repairs to occur at a time when the jet will be working during Floriade, even if it is in a diminished way. This will enable visitors to Canberra to see one of our significant attractions during one of our premier events. Once again, it goes to show you how arrogant and aloof the NCPA is, and with the advent of a Federal Liberal government perhaps we can make some changes to that, Mr Speaker.

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