Page 1732 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 13 May 2015

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Congratulations, Chief Minister Gallagher, in finding the region two years ago. Congratulations, Chief Minister, on lending them the logo. It is great you have done that, but why was that not part of your initial strategy? Why was that not something that was done right from the start? Why did it take you 15 years to find the region? They are the questions that need answering. You can read your list—I have heard the list. I saw you at some of the events, you saw me at some of the events and we enjoyed the events, Chief Minister. But it is about how we capitalise on it and use it as a springboard to the future and how we use what is embodied in our cultural institutions and art and culture. David Throsby, an Australian who is recognised as the world expert on the cultural economy, says it starts with art, artistic creativity and creativity in general. You need those elements before you get to innovation and before you get to technological advancement.

We have in this city the sacred places, the holding places of our art and cultural heritage in this country, whether it be the War Memorial or the National Gallery, the Portrait Gallery, the National Library, the Museum or the Film and Sound Archive. The question I pose is: are we leveraging enough off them to our benefit and to the nation’s benefit, which a capital should do? At the same time that you get the dividend, it actually improves your tourist economy and, from that, governments make some revenue out of tourism. Cities get prestige. They improve their reputations. They develop an identity. They break the very thing, the cycle, that Tourism Research Australia says in their visitor perceptions of the ACT that we suffer from.

If you want ecotourism, there are numerous things around the territory that we could look to. If you want Indigenous tourism we have everything from Yankee Hat to Rendezvous Creek to the grooves up behind Calwell. I do not know whether Burley Griffin did it by design or whether he had intimate knowledge of Aboriginal history, but as a theophanist Burley Griffin believed man met the divine in the environment. He has gifted us a great legacy not only in protecting that environment and allowing that environment in our backyards—I have had an echidna and a snake and lots of little field mice and rats in my backyard because I have got a big block and it is lovely—but also in protecting our Indigenous culture and our Indigenous heritage. We need to play to that as well: (1) to protect it and honour it, (2) to enjoy it and (3) to promote it and create jobs in that sector as well.

We have the keeping houses of the country here, and below that we have significant levels of local tourism through art and culture as well. I am not sure we play to those in the way we should. Yet again the Chief Minister has failed to produce any evidence of the benefit of the centenary. He says, “Yes, we had a legacy. We got some lights and we had more events.” Fantastic. I do not think any of us doubt that events under the lights at Manuka are fantastic. But let us look at the numbers and the way they have declined, and the way the return and the spend have declined. How will we arrest that? We now know there is potential in what we did in the 2013 year. We should be able to get back to the 2003 numbers and benefit all of us.

There is dividend in this activity to the ordinary community, because this is the money that helps balance the budget, gets rid of deficits, provides the resources for the teachers and the nurses and the police officers so that all can have improved wellbeing

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