Page 54 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 12 February 2008

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The festival featured representations from local community groups and heads of mission to an Arab street and Europe street. The exhibitions, film festival and the Fringe Festival have been particularly successful this year. Although we are in the middle of a festival with several days yet to go, the attendances and audiences are breaking previous records.

The Food and Dance Spectacular has exceeded crowd expectations of 70,000. You could hardly move in City Walk and Garema Place on Saturday. The crowd size was amazing. Last Sunday the Greek Glendi was packed out with 35,000 people and big crowds are expected at the Chinese New Year celebrations next Sunday.

All in all, Canberra will enjoy the 10-day festival, which brings together people from more than 140 different multicultural groups. A festival of this magnitude cannot succeed without a whole host of stakeholders. The ACT community has responded well. In particular, I acknowledge and congratulate the multicultural community, the sponsors, the volunteers, performers, organisers, stallholders, artists, musicians, dancers, singers—local and from overseas—for being part of such a grand festival and contributing to its success.

We certainly look forward to seeing all these stakeholders again to give the Canberra community yet another successful National Multicultural Festival in the coming years. Somebody from interstate said, “Last Sunday I attended the multicultural festival in Civic. I have only been in Canberra for a year. It is the first time I have attended. I want to let you know I had a really fantastic time. I felt like I travelled the world in a day. I look forward to participating in next year’s festival.” That is what it is all about—it is the bringing together of Canberra, once a year at least, when we all have an absolute blast.

Hospitals—pay parking

MRS BURKE: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, last year your government abolished the disastrous pay parking policy which caused great distress to patients in and visitors to the Canberra Hospital. This mean-spirited policy forced patients and visitors to rush out at 8.00 pm on a Sunday night to fill a parking meter, for example. It was revealed that this exercise, far from making money, actually cost taxpayers, in net terms, around half a million dollars. Chief Minister, are you aware of any other example, anywhere in the world, of a government which loses money on pay parking?

MR STANHOPE: I thank Mrs Burke for the question. The imposition of pay parking anywhere is always controversial—indeed, problematical.

Mr Pratt: And in this case it was a farce. Just say that, Jon.

MR STANHOPE: But pay parking at our hospitals—and at other public facilities—is a reasonable sustainability and public policy response to issues around transport and transport infrastructure.

Mr Pratt: People going out in their dressing gowns, plugging the parking meters.

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