Page 523 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 5 March 2008

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MR SPEAKER: I think he is trying to explain that.

MR BARR: The simple answer to Mr Smyth’s question, having given him a little bit of a history lesson, is that there was no change. It was always the case that Balloon Aloft was going to be contracted to provide support in its area of speciality. As has been the case with the event throughout its history, regardless of whether it was being run entirely in house by the ACT government or by the Canberra balloon fiesta in the last five or six years, the majority of on-the-ground support—advertising, marketing, event management—is provided by the Chief Minister’s Department and Tourism. The only change that has occurred over that entire time was that, through last year’s event and through a desire into the future on the part of the previous operator, they wanted to bring in an events management company from Melbourne to undertake more of that role. But guess what: who was going to pay for it? The ACT government. They wanted $90,000 to do it.

When faced with an option of a four or five-day event for $70,000 or the event that we are getting, nine days for the same amount of money, and the two event management options—$10,000 from the local company or $90,000 to bring someone in from Melbourne—it is pretty clear where the value for money is. But no, that does not stop Mr Smyth continuing this campaign to smear the reputation of the Chief Minister’s Department and the excellent staff who work within that unit and who will deliver a fantastic balloon event this year. I hope Mr Smyth can find it in himself to be big enough to enjoy the event, but I doubt that he will.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Smyth with a supplementary question.

MR SMYTH: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, why have you decided that the event would be better managed by staff of the ACT government? What will this cost in dollars and in-kind support? Have you approved the business plan for this year’s event?

MR BARR: I have just answered that question extensively, but just to remind Mr Smyth again and to put this one to bed finally, Chief Minister’s and Tourism have been providing in-kind support and doing marketing and a range of activities for this event over its entire history, regardless of whether it has been entirely run within Chief Minister’s or parts of the event management have been contracted out. It has still been a fundamental requirement because the previous organisers were unable to run the event without the assistance of the ACT government. It has been shown clearly through this process that they were unable, even though they bid for the event, to do it within the allotted budget. They made that very clear to us. They did not accept our funding offers. We went to someone else. We went to a local company who can deliver a great outcome. We will work in partnership with them to deliver a fantastic balloon event.

But, no, that is not enough for Mr Smyth. He has to continue this personal vendetta that he seems to have against a local Canberra ballooning company. The real question that we have to ask here is: just what is it that Balloon Aloft have done to offend Mr Smyth? What is it that they have done? What connections do you have, Mr Smyth,

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