Page 1193 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 9 April 2008

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Do not forget—never forget—that the stringencies being forced onto the people of Canberra and Australia as a result of the efficiencies being pursued by the federal government are a direct result of the Howard-Costello Liberal Party economic mismanagement. There were eight interest rate rises in three years. An average mortgage of a young Canberra family has increased—in terms of monthly payments or repayments—by $370 per month; $110,000 over the course of a mortgage.

The great Liberal Party legacy—the gift of the Liberal Party to the people of Canberra, to young Canberra families—is an additional $370 a month being paid straight to their bank. This is $370 that they can no longer spend on other things; $370 that cannot be spent on clothing, recreation, their children, and going to restaurants or movies. It is $370 a month on an average mortgage—the Liberal Party gift to young families, working families, to the people of Canberra and Australia. Never forget it.

Balloon festival

MR SMYTH: My question is to the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation. Minister, I have received a number of documents under an FOI request relating to Canberra’s balloon festival. One document was prepared by the general manager of Australian Capital Tourism at 3.11 on the afternoon before you announced the change in operator for the balloon festival. This document says, in paragraph 2:

My concern is that our Minister

that is, you, Mr Barr—

is about to go out on a limb, with nothing in writing.

Minister, why did you approve the change of operator for Canberra’s annual balloon festival when there was no documentation on which to base that decision?

MR BARR: I thank Mr Smyth for the question. The government were faced with three options in relation to the balloon event this year. We could accept yet again from the previous operator a reduced event and not meet the commitments that they outlined in their original submission to the government, and that was for a nine-day event. For the same money, for the $70,000 that we were going to provide towards that event through both the tourism events assistance program and the festival fund—a combined total of $70,000—we could have accepted a four-day event.

Option No 2 would have been to have had no event at all. Option No 3, the one that I pursued, in consultation with the Chief Minister as the moneys were coming both from the tourism portfolio and from the festival fund, was to pursue an alternative supplier to provide a nine-day event for the people of the ACT—a nine-day event that represented value for money and represented what the government intended by providing an additional $20,000 of assistance towards the operation of a balloon event.

Mr Smyth seems to be suggesting that the government should have increased its grant by 40 per cent and got a reduced event in return. Given the available options—and

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