Page 547 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 5 March 2008

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We know that Eden Monaro is a marginal seat and we know that they sit up and listen to it. Why are the airport owners more concerned about the views of people in Queanbeyan and Eden Monaro in relation to their political representative than they are about the ACT? It is politics, mate.

If we are going to be really serious about this, I think that, again, on behalf of the whole of Australia, we should be defending these institutions, not just because they bring tourists here. If we do not, no-one will. I am sorry, it just so happens that most people in Australia do not realise how important the National Gallery, the National Archives, the National Library and the National Botanic Gardens are. In fact, I thought, “Maybe the best analysis is if we look at the actual benefit of these institutions.”

First of all, let us look at the events that the NCA conducts. Mostly, I think these benefit Canberra people. It is a sort of gift that the NCA gives us for living in the national capital. For instance, I do not think people travel from Sydney for our Tropfest and some of the other events. I see those as being events for Canberra, and good on them. It saves the ACT government money; it utilises that parliamentary triangle, which can be a very godforsaken place, especially on a windy, cold day.

If they do not cover them, then who does? Do we let them drop or does the ACT government pick them up? Those are questions we need to be talking about here today, not putting out spurious amendments based on interest rate cuts.

I heard Mr Rudd this morning on the radio taking responsibility for the interest rate rises. We might find it is not as easy to keep if Mr Rudd himself is taking responsibility. We cannot keep blaming the previous government forever and ever. At some point that has to stop. Mr Rudd appears to have drawn a line under that already.

Some of these events benefit Canberra alone. Will the ACT government step in? Will we consider some kind of cost recovery? My daughter—mind you, she is only 18 but is old enough to vote—said, “Why don’t they charge people a gold coin for entrance to the Tropfest?” Shock, horror! Maybe that is a point; I do not know. I put that out there.

I wonder what the ACT government would be saying if the NCA funded Floriade. I reckon there would be a bit of a fuss being made about that if we had to pick up the bill for that. I commend the ACT government for the fact that it does fund Floriade. I wonder what the effect will be of the NCA’s cuts in terms of Floriade. I would like to hear the cost-benefit analysis there.

Some of the institutions that are managed for the nation are the museum, the archives, the library and, I believe, even the National Capital Authority, in its brief of looking after that aspect of Canberra which is the national capital. So we need to be getting the rest of Australia concerned. It is not just the fat cats in Canberra that are suffering from these cuts; it is the whole of Australia.

Thirdly, which things are for Australians, not just because it is the national capital but because these are good things to have? And some of those, I think, include the very

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