Page 1145 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 25 March 2015

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As I said yesterday, Tommy Balogh is one of Canberra’s great visual artists, and he has just had his own solo display at M16, so that is a good thing. Paragraph (d) of the motion says that, as part of a packed events program, Enlighten, the Night Noodle Markets, the Balloon Spectacular and Art, Not Apart helped draw tourists from across the region. It will be interesting to see those numbers and the analysis when they are available of what the visitation was across the region and what was the boost to the local economy. But there are still holes in our events calendar. If you go back and read previous estimates reports, they say the government should develop an accommodation and events and attraction strategy to assist the tourist market of the ACT. It really has not done that, but it is still worth doing.

There are two dead spots. Spring and autumn are pretty good—spring, of course, with Floriade and all its attendant activity, and autumn, with Canberra Day and Enlighten and the Multicultural Festival, so that part of the year is quite full. But we still have late June, July and August which are still reasonably quiet. I note a couple of great Canberra stalwarts, Stephen Day and Simon Troeth, are looking to set up a major writers festival in that period, of which I would be very supportive. We have a dead spot in winter, and certainly December and January are very quiet in the capital.

You can keep packing more into the bits that have already got a lot of activity, but when will we get a full calendar for the year to assist to smooth visitation rates and make sure we get the full benefit of tourism’s contribution to our economy? Integrating with the local region is very important as well. The motion says these events are part of what makes Canberra the most livable city in the world. That is true, but there needs to be a fuller calendar. People acknowledge there are a few flat spots there, so let us work on that.

Paragraph (2) calls on the government to deliver high quality events for the community. Let us do that, but let us not rip off the community by stealing their events and putting them in house. Let us be quite clear on this: that is not the role of government and it should not happen. If the private sector can give us something, they should be delivering it.

The motion continues: work with local businesses in the community sector to provide a wide range of events in Canberra. It will be interesting if the Chief Minister and Minister for Tourism and Events can tell us how many events the government has turned down. It might be something he takes on notice. I would like a list of what sorts of proposals have been made over the past couple of years, how many were successful and how many were not. It would be interesting to see how the government has worked with local business and the community sector to provide a wide range of events in Canberra.

The motion then refers to supporting the work of Access Canberra. Paragraph (2)(c) is quite funny. Access Canberra was only announced by the Chief Minister on 16 December, but obviously Ms Fitzharris has concerns about its future. She has heard the rumours and so she has to put this in. So, Chief Minister, I am sure you will jump up and tell us you are going to support the work of Access Canberra to make it easier for the private sector to start and operate events in the ACT. One would hope

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