Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1814 ..
MR BERRY (5.48): I move:
That the Government revert to a "gold coin" donation for entry to Floriade this year and that in any consideration of an entry fee for the next Floriade the Government consult with community and relevant commercial interests.
This matter was raised in the context of the Estimates Committee examination of the budget. A week after the scheduled public hearings of the committee we found that there was to be a charge on entry to Floriade. You will find this mentioned on page 17 of the Estimates Committee report, just under the Estimates Committee recommendation to restore arts funding. The first opportunity we had to ask the Chief Minister questions in relation to the matter was when she was recalled for further questioning.
It is a concern to me and to other committee members that there has been inadequate consultation on Floriade. We have heard from a number of businesses around the ACT that will be affected by the outrageous mismanagement of the Floriade fee. Businesses that have established themselves at significant cost have produced literature in relation to Floriade and committed themselves to business ventures in relation to Floriade on the basis that it was free. Then all of a sudden out of the blue we are informed that there is to be a fee.
Most concerning is that the decision of the Government in relation to this matter was made last year. Mr Hird and others have been heard to say that Floriade was tired and that we had to do something about it, so we should implement a fee and that should wake them up. Right across Australia we still had a constant stream of advertising which either ignored this new fee or promoted Floriade as a free event.
I have a great deal of passion for Floriade. It is our major festival and it is a festival which is valued by the community, not only in the ACT and the region but very broadly across Australia. It is valued because it is good quality. It is valued because it is free. It is valued because it is in the Australian Capital Territory. It is valued because it gives the opportunity to those people interested in floral design an opportunity to be involved in the process with those working on the festival or to visit the festival. I do not think anybody would disagree that Floriade is of value to the Territory.
Let us go to how the Government decided on the level of an entry charge. Keep this in context. Floriade has always been free. Then we hear the Government, in their response to the Estimates Committee report, trying to justify the entry fee set by the Canberra Tourism and Events Corporation on the basis that the fee has been set at a level which is comparable to, or less than, the fee for events such as the Royal Canberra Show. What does that have to do with it? The Royal Canberra Show has always been accessed by payment. It has never been free, not in my experience anyway. The government response also mentioned the Summernats. The Summernats has always been an expensive event to enter. It has always been at a cost. It has never been free. Also mentioned was the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show. I have never been there but I suspect that it has never been free either.