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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 10 April 2008) . . Page.. 1293 ..

being any business plan and without any budget. We are also aware that you said in a media release that the change in operator for Canberra’s new balloon event, supported with funding of $70,000, “represents best value for money for ACT taxpayers”. Minister, in documents you provided to the public accounts committee last week, and published this week, you comment that the total budget for the balloon event “is still being finalised”. Minister, how can you claim that your new balloon event represents “best value for money” when there is no budget for this event?

MR BARR: I thank Mr Smyth for the question. Members would be aware, as this subject has been canvassed extensively in this place, that the government indicated that we would provide $70,000 in assistance—$50,000 from the Tourism event assistance program and $20,000 from the festival fund—and that that money would be made available to the alternative operator of the event, given that the previous operator had submitted to the government a proposal for a nine-day event and subsequently indicated that, for the available government funding, they would not be able to operate a nine-day event here in the ACT.

As I indicated in my response to Mr Smyth’s question yesterday, we were left with three options: to accept the reduced, four-day event for an increased amount of money, have no event at all—

Mr Smyth interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Smyth!

MR BARR: or pursue the avenue that we chose to pursue, and that was to contract a local supplier, Balloon Aloft, to undertake the event management. In relation to the question of budgets, at the time that I provided the answer to that committee, we were still finalising sponsorship arrangements. As I indicated yesterday, we have a range of sponsors supporting the event. KAZ Electronics have come on board with a $25,000 cash sponsorship. There is also cash sponsorship from a range of other organisations, including ActewAGL and Canberra CBD Ltd. There are media partners—the Canberra Times, Southern Cross Ten and 666 ABC—and an accommodation sponsor, the Hotel Heritage.

Given the tight time frames that are involved, and as Mr Smyth would be aware, given the extensive documentation that he has received, I extended, and continued to extend, the time available for the previous operator to reach agreement with the government until the middle of February.

Mr Smyth: How did you make the judgement—

MR SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, order! I did not call you to order for the fun of it.

Mr Smyth: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: the question is not about the litany that Mr Barr is reciting; the question is: how can you claim that your new balloon event represents the best value for money when there is no budget for this event?

MR SPEAKER: I think Mr Barr is explaining the budget.

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