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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 9 April 2008) . . Page.. 1194 ..

Mr Smyth is aware of the options because, as part of his FOI documentation, he would have received a copy of the same brief as I received—I, as minister for tourism, determined that a nine-day balloon event would be appropriate for the ACT, a nine-day balloon event within the budget that the government put forward.

I am very pleased to advise the Assembly that, in addition to the government’s contribution, the national autumn balloon spectacular is now also being sponsored by Kaz Electronics, Canberra CBD Ltd and ActewAGL who are providing cash sponsorships; that we have an accommodation sponsor, through the Hotel Heritage; and that we have three media partners, 666 ABC, Southern Cross Ten and the Canberra Times.

Promotion has already commenced, and I am sure members would have seen the local television production that Southern Cross are broadcasting throughout their broadcast region, which is very good. They continue to promote the event, which will run from 19 to 27 April this year. There will be more than 30 balloons.

Mr Smyth: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: the question actually was: 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? If the minister would answer the question, that would be very nice.

MR SPEAKER: The minister is going into the detail of why he made the decision.

MR BARR: Thank you, Mr Speaker. For the benefit of members, I will repeat that the offer that was made to the previous operators was not accepted. It was rejected. So I go back to the original point I made, and that is that we were presented with three options: no event; a reduced event, with the previous operator; or a nine-day event, with a new operator, a local operator.

I am very pleased to be able to advise members that we have secured for the national autumn balloon spectacular Kaz Electronics as a major cash sponsor—something of the order of $25,000, I understand, from them in sponsorship—as well as support from Canberra CBD, from ActewAGL, from the Hotel Heritage, from 666 ABC, from the Canberra Times and from Southern Cross Ten.

Most interestingly, though, is that I have recently received advice that one Mr Paul Gibbs, who was the principal proponent of the former provider, the president of the Canberra balloon fiesta, is in fact going to be piloting the Kaz Electronics balloon during the national autumn balloon spectacular. Such is the confidence of the former operator that he is going to be piloting one of the balloons in the new event.

Once again, what we see here is that Mr Smyth is full of hot air. He must indicate to the people of the ACT whether he supports a local company running this event and whether he supports the event at all, because it is clear from his comments that he does not.

MR SPEAKER: Resume your seat, please. Supplementary question, Mr Smyth.

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