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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 3 Hansard (25 March) . . Page.. 873 ..

MR HIRD (continuing):

new chief executive officer of the Royal National Capital Agricultural Society - not forgetting the efforts of Mr Guy Thurston, the executive director of ACTION, and all his staff to make these activities a success.

Mr Speaker, in bringing this issue to the attention of the parliament today, I am hoping to increase the understanding by all members of the Government's commitment to using every opportunity to sell Canberra as the place to be, the place to see and the place to be seen. I would really hope - indeed, I am confident - that this Assembly will endorse the Government's strategies in this area.

MR BERRY (4.06): The statement in the matter of public importance that Mr Hird has brought forward is a motherhood statement that none of us could disagree with. It is particularly important to focus attention on the benefits that major events bring to the economy. But we also have to separate other facts. It is also necessary, in the scheme of things, to draw attention to the so-called major events which have been botched up by this Government. Let us take the major indoor game which was played on an outdoor slab and eventually washed out in its first airing in the ACT. Let us take the rhetoric that was fed to us that it was going to be a major facility for future events in the ACT.

Let us not forget the debacle of the Woodies event and the explanation of why the Government decided on funding the Woodies out of forestry resources to play tennis on the futsal slab as a major event in the ACT. Is it because there is some similarity between the Woodies and trees? I ask you, Mr Speaker: Is that the sort of logic that we need to have in designing major events? The end result was that the Woodies event cost the ACT taxpayers a significant sum. The Woodies event did not attract a great deal of interest in the ACT. In the end it came to be characterised as a plaything of senior executives and the Government, using Territory taxpayers' funds. So, Mr Hird, in bringing these matters forward, I do not know that the Government would thank you because it provokes an interest in earlier events.

In the context of this debate you have to talk about things like the Feel the Power campaign and the millions that were pumped into that. Again, ACT taxpayers' funds were pumped into the Feel the Power campaign. You have also to consider that unpopular slogan, that unpopular second-hand slogan, that was brought to bear in the ACT and launched largely at a Liberal Party function before the last election. We all recall the debacle over the Feel the Power numberplate. When you have a government that is intent on creating a circus out of itself, how can you expect people to take seriously some of the events that it promotes? In fact, the Government's performance runs the risk of damaging events which are run by the private sector, and I reflect on some of those very successful events that are put together by the private sector. The most notable, of course, is the Summernats.

Mr Speaker, the success of large events in the ACT is also about the success of the ACT as a community and the standing of the Government in the wider community. When you look at the Government you have to look at things such as the attempted ACTEW sale. If ACTEW had been sold, there would have been a significant impact on the ACT economy. Briefly there would have been some loose cash available, but in the longer

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