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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1816 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

Some other questions have arisen in relation to the propriety of putting a fence up, whether people could just refuse to pay and just enter if they want to and who would be able to prosecute them if they refused to pay. I am not quite sure of the legal aspects of that, but it all seems very curious and unsettled to me. A very sensible proposition put forward by the Estimates Committee was rejected by the Government outright in their response to the Estimates Committee report. This motion is consistent with the Estimates Committee recommendation. I would urge those members of the Estimates Committee who supported it to support it again.

I reject the Government's comparison of the fee for Floriade with those for other important festivals such as the Royal Canberra Show, Summernats and the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show. Those events are not relevant because they have never been free. Floriade has been a free show since it started, and all of a sudden you are whacking a great fee on at short notice without properly advising tourists and the tourism industry. As I have said a number of times in the past, the first thing they will have to do when they arrive in the ACT with a 40-seater bus is whip around all the people on the bus and ensure that they come up with $10 each. That is 400 bucks before you bother getting out of the bus.

That, in my view, is an outrageous proposition. It has been improperly managed from the outset. It is about time the Government woke up to itself and went back to taws and started again. That would be a sensible move, and I think the Government would win a few points if it were to do that.

Sitting suspended from 6.01 to 7.00 pm

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (7.00): Mr Speaker, there is no doubt that the decision to charge a modest entry fee - and I have to say it is a modest entry fee - for interstate and repeat visitors to Floriade has upset some people. So why was such a controversial step taken by CTEC, the Canberra Tourism and Events Corporation? It is a fair question that deserves a comprehensive answer. Let me start by putting a few facts on the table for the benefit of all members of this Assembly. Floriade is the ACT's premier festival. It costs more to stage than all of our other festivals combined. It injects about $25m into the ACT economy and creates up to 900 part-time and full-time equivalent jobs.

It is also 11 years old. When organisers surveyed tourists and Canberrans alike about their impressions of the 1997 festival, their fears that the event was losing its appeal were realised. Floriade was perceived as being tired, lacking innovation and entertainment value. It was also seen as being too small, with too few bulbs and displays to provide variety and interest. If nothing had been done, then all the indications were that Floriade would have gradually withered and died as a major event and, with it, all the jobs and the economic benefits to the city. I am sure nobody would want that to happen.

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