Page 56 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 25 February 2014

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The Director of the Fringe Festival was appointed without a competitive selection process.

Minister, what steps are you taking to ensure that an appropriate, transparent and competitive selection process is in place for appointing future directors of the Fringe Festival?

MS BURCH: I thank Mrs Jones for her question. Just at the outset, let us be very clear that no matter how you try to pitch this, it was within my rights of delegation to make that appointment. I have done that. There was a deed of agreement that articulated his responsibilities and his acquittal and reporting attached to that.

It goes to the point about what will the process be next year. As happens after all events, particularly the National Multicultural Festival, we have a look at it. I am quite happy—more than happy—to consider a recruitment process if that is the right thing to do. So I am quite happy to consider the best options to make sure that the Multicultural Festival is managed the best that we can and continues to be the fabulous event that it is.

Also I remain committed to having a fringe as part of the National Multicultural Festival. It was a success this year. Eighteen thousand people came to be part of that. I am quite happy to go to some of the commentaries that come to me.

Mr Coe: What does the Jewish community say?

MS BURCH: If I may, Madam Speaker—and I know I should not respond to interjections—

MADAM SPEAKER: That would be disorderly.

MS BURCH: If I may, then, just randomly offer this bit of information if I can, Madam Speaker: I have spoken to a number of people in the community and they have said to me, once the situation was explained, they understand that this was fringe and this was satire and that no offence was meant.

Mr Coe: And it was public money.

MS BURCH: With public money. The National Multicultural Festival got founded on public money. So if you want to tag me with the so-called offence of the fringe, then I am quite happy to take your phrase for the success of having a quarter of a million people come in to the city of Canberra and enjoy the Multicultural Festival.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mrs Jones.

MRS JONES: Minister, why did you use your powers and when was the decision made to bypass a proper selection process for appointing the director for the 2014 Fringe Festival?

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