Barr enlightens Oppn on festival
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Barr enlightens Oppn on festival

ACT Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr has dismissed Opposition claims that rolling more of the 2012 Enlighten music event into the Canberra Festival is an admission of defeat.

The first Enlighten, held earlier this year, lost $2.4million of taxpayers' money, according to answers given by senior territory public servants at a budget estimates hearing in May.

Two days ago Mr Barr, who is also Tourism Minister, revealed Enlighten in 2012 would be further integrated into the Canberra Festival.

''Enlighten will feature as a major event within the Canberra Festival, with its own operating and marketing budget,'' Mr Barr said.

He said it would be possible to pull out specific Enlighten dollar figures and crowd numbers for the event when it was finished. The budget for Enlighten 2012 was decreased from about $1.5million to $1.2million because the event was now established, according to answers from the minister's office and figures the minister provided to a public accounts committee last month.

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Opposition tourism spokesman Brendan Smyth said Mr Barr had backflipped.

Mr Smyth pointed to an email written by the Tourism Minister in 2009, in which Mr Barr said, ''the Government's election commitment relates to a new autumn event rather than the expansion of existing events.''

Mr Smyth said the minister's decision this week meant the ACT now did not have its new autumn event.

''The minister has failed,'' Mr Smyth said. ''He's rolling the event into an already successful festival.

''It will be impossible to determine the stand-alone impact of Enlighten now on ACT tourism.''

Mr Barr said his 2009 email had been misquoted, pointing out in the same email he had also said, ''How the event complements existing events is a matter for further discussion.''

The minister said it was incorrect to say that Enlighten 2011 lost $2.4million of taxpayer's money.

''The Government does not put money into events like Enlighten - or Floriade for that matter - to make a profit,'' Mr Barr said.

''We invest in quality events to generate economic activity for the ACT.''