Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1815 ..
Mr Moore: Come on, Wayne. You have been there. You must have been there. I cannot believe that you have missed that, Wayne.
MR BERRY: Smug remarks are not helpful, Michael. Michael, you belong to a government that made a bungle, and it is about time you had the independence to say so. Instead of just writing "Independent" on your door, you have to look as though you are independent. You really have to quack like a duck to be a duck. Here we have this wishy-washy justification for the fee which was set. None of the events mentioned are comparable to Floriade. This fee was improperly thought out and kept a secret before the election because the Chief Minister knew it would be damaging to her election campaign if she said she was going to do it this way. It was sprung on the community at the last minute.
Let us have a look at some of the things that have happened since. We heard at first that families would get one free pass for one year only. Later I think I heard the Chief Minister say that they would always get free passes every year, from here to eternity. That was an advance on the issue. Then we heard that everybody was going to get a free Floriade pass in their letterboxes with their electric light bill. Some had already got their bills and would not be getting another bill until after Floriade, so that had to be patched up. We then discovered that people in nursing homes were not going to get a pass because they were not renters or ratepayers, so they had to be fixed up as well.
This has been a litany of mistakes, one clumsy stumble after the other. That is why the Estimates Committee, consisting of Mr Corbell, Mr Hird, Mr Rugendyke, Mr Osborne and me, made the very sensible recommendation 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 the community and relevant commercial interests. This is the way it should have been done in the first place, with care and consultation, to make sure that everybody understood exactly what was going to happen.
I do not think the community would object to some sort of an entry fee, provided that it was set at a very reasonable level, a low level in the first place, and that Canberra residents were not seen as having to pay twice. We already pay a one point something-or-other million dollars subsidy for Floriade. If you take your mother-in-law or your grandmother along, you have to buy a ticket for them, or if your children are over a certain age you have to buy a ticket for them. A whole range of issues need to be dealt with in the context of managing this sort of a change.
Let us think about another issue. If you manage change badly, you reap the results of your bad management. That is what has occurred in the context of this festival. We have heard of tourism operators threatening to cut the fence down. You could not very well describe a management process for the introduction of a new fee as successful when tourism operators in the ACT threaten to cut their way into Floriade because the Government did not properly consult them about the issue. I do not know what has happened to placate the particular tourism operator who said these things, but I happened to bump into him and he is still very upset about the operations of the Government on this matter. As he properly indicated, it has been bungled from the outset.