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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 5 March 2008) . . Page.. 522 ..

MR BARR: I must say that the shadow minister is displaying his complete ignorance around the history of this event and its past operation. Let me enlighten him. We will go back to yesterday’s point. I made the comparison, when asked about the value for money of the option that the government has chosen, that Balloon Aloft’s fee for service, taken from the overall budget of $70,000 for the nine-day event, would be $10,000—$10,000 out of the $70,000. Have you got that? Very good. That was in contrast to the previous operator’s bid for a $90,000 event management fee, out of a total claim on the budget of $493,000. Have you got that too?

I indicated, and I repeat for the benefit of Mr Smyth, who is clearly winning the award today for the slowest shadow minister of the day, that the Chief Minister’s special events unit would support the 2008 event through the management of on-site infrastructure, programming of entertainment and procurement of sponsorship, and that Australian Capital Tourism would support the event through interstate marketing and promotion. Now guess what: this arrangement does not differ significantly from the arrangements put in place in the past to support the previous operator. In 2006, Tourism support for the organisation was $92,000 in cash, plus insurance and significant in-kind support through staffing, advertising, marketing and operational services. In addition, Tourism staff provided site management and event operations on a voluntary basis, amounting to an estimated total of 250 hours of voluntary work from Tourism staff, Mr Smyth, under the previous operator in 2006.

Mr Smyth: What happened last year?

MR BARR: Let us go back to 2005.

Mr Smyth: Go to 2007. What happened last year?

MR SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, you have had your question. Order!

MR BARR: Twenty thousand dollars in cash was provided through the ACT festival fund and $50,000 was provided through the event assistance program—similar to this year’s funding arrangement. But just prior to the event the operators came forward and said, “Look, we’re really struggling, we’ll need additional resources.” So the government stumped up an extra $15,000 in cash through Tourism for advertising on behalf of the fiesta, $11,400 in additional cash for event research on behalf of the event, and $25,000 worth of in-kind support provided through an enhanced program of entertainment titled “Circus of the Air”. Guess who presented that: the Chief Minister’s Department, as part of the Celebrate Canberra program. Again, considerable in-kind staff assistance and creative expertise were provided to the event by Tourism and by the Chief Minister’s Department. The operation of this year’s event will be no different in terms of the support provided by Tourism and the Chief Minister’s Department than has been the case in every other year. Let us go back and look at the 20-year history of this event. In fact, in 14 of those years it was run entirely out of the Chief Minister’s Department.

Mr Smyth: On a point of order, Mr Speaker, the history lesson is useful but the question is: when did you change your mind and why did you change your mind about the event and why is it being managed in house?

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