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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 1826 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (7.40): I move:

Omit "That the Government revert", substitute "That this Assembly calls on the Government to revert".

This amendment is in line with what Mr Osborne just said in relation to budgetary measures.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (7.41): I will speak to the amendment and to the motion. Having been a member of the crossbenches myself, I understand the difficulties these sorts of motions pose for crossbenchers. They may agree with and accept the sentiment of the motion but feel compelled to support the Government and its budget measures. Mr Rugendyke's amendment allows members to support the sentiment of the motion but at the same time it really puts the acid on the Government to say whether they will push ahead with an entry fee for Floriade or whether, having been called upon by the Assembly to do something, they will take a different view.

I recall the approach of the Government of which Mr Berry and Mr Wood were members and how they handled this situation. Ms Follett, on quite a number of occasions, said that if you wished to force the Government to do something then you would need to pass legislation. If you call on the Government to do something or you require the Government to do something, we will take it very seriously. Indeed, the Government should take any view of the Assembly very seriously, and I think that will happen.

It is interesting to me the way the motion is framed. I suppose I was a little surprised that Mr Berry and the Labor Party chose to support the notion of putting up fences around Floriade and charging an entrance fee rather than adopting the earlier approach of saying that Floriade is a festival for all Canberrans and that Commonwealth Park ought not to be fenced. That is certainly a view that I have put in previous years. The Government's decision, of which I was a part, was to fence Floriade and to say that if the costs of Floriade are to be met and Floriade is to deliver the outcomes that people in Canberra expect then there should be a payment. That is the Government's position, a position that I am quite comfortable in supporting.

MR HIRD (7.44): Floriade is a celebration that has gone through its tenth year and it is getting very tired. Operators bringing interstate visitors here have told me that visitors have been disappointed and feel that Floriade needs to be upgraded.

Mr Stanhope: They will value it if they pay for it!

MR HIRD: The Leader of the Opposition said that everything is free. You and I know, Mr Speaker, that nothing is free in this world. The ratepayer and taxpayer of Canberra has been picking up a huge tab on Floriade. As we know, a $344m deficit was created by the lads across the way there. They do not care. They would like to make everything free and pass the debt on not only to their children but also to their grandkids. They would like to put everything on the never-never. Much as I personally dislike a charge for our festival celebrating flowers, I am a practical person. Coming with a business background, I know that nothing is free.

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