Page 880 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 24 February 2009

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National Multicultural Festival

MS BURCH: My question is to the Minister for Multicultural Affairs. Minister, can you tell us how successful the 2009 national multicultural festival was?

MR HARGREAVES: I thank Ms Burch for her question on land rents—the multicultural festival 2009. I do not mislead the Assembly. I do not talk about stamp duties when it is not true. The 2009 national multicultural festival was one of the most successful festivals we have staged. I would like to quote one line in the paper today which I think sums it up pretty much. Of course, these people opposite are not interested in it. It says:

Canberra’s Multicultural Festival is universally acknowledged as the best festival of its kind in the nation.

The numbers bear that out. In January and February, of course, the festival website, for those that are literate,—

Opposition members interjecting—

MR HARGREAVES: and I exclude you from that previous comment—had approximately 800,000 hits. Think about it: 800,000 hits on multiculturalism. A couple of days prior to the festival the organisers were concerned about the extreme weather conditions on the day of the food and dance spectacular. The festival team addressed all potential issues so that the attendees of the food and dance spectacular would be as comfortable as possible, with temperatures soaring over 40 degrees Celsius and with the potential to rise even higher on-site due to environmental aspects such as crowds and concrete. We know that it got pretty hot down near the stage. Mr Hanson probably was not there.

Pleasingly on the day, under such hot conditions, around 75,000 people attended the event. That was 10,000 more than last year, even with the extreme weather conditions. I also wish to acknowledge that I did see Mr Coe and Mr Dozpot and Ms Bresnan, and I thank them for their attendance. I also saw Mrs Dunne and I thank her for her support for the festival, even though she did take the opportunity to try and give me a serve, but you get that.

Two sanctuaries were included in the festival’s map this year to cater particularly for the elderly and young parents in need of a pit stop. They could find respite in a cool drink and a comfortable sit down or even a little bit of quiet, private space. In fact, a key stakeholder in the city precinct has sent a letter full of praise and congratulations to the festival office and I would like to share these sentiments with you:

The removal of the toilet block from our entrance and the stopping of waste disposal collection from the adjacent car park, maintained the quality and standard of the environment around the building. We also appreciated that instead of a stage with the continuous entertainment being located on City Walk near the fountain, there was an art zone. This not only cut down the noise, but also on congestion in that area of Civic.

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