Almost $3 million of taxpayer money has been tipped into Western Australia's annual One Movement for Music conference and festival. Now, a parliamentary inquiry wants to figure out whether the cash was put to good use.
The Australian state's Standing Committee on Estimates and Financial Operations has launched an inquiry into the involvement and support of the event by the Western Australian Tourism Commission, and its subsidiaries which includes the events agency Eventscorp.
Imagine a scenario where say the annual Winter Music Conference, which is backed by the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority, was called to question before a Florida State committee, and you start to get the picture. But with over sixty acts performing at the last One Movement for Music in October--including Sarah McLachlan, Todd Rundgren and Ben Kweller-you begin understand why music fans and industry alike would be upset by the confab's cancellation.
Shadow Western Australian (WA) culture and arts minister John Hyde has been a vocal opponent to what he saw as a misuse of the public purse. Hyde argued that the event has failed to deliver for tourism in WA and that numbers for last year's festival were boosted by freebies which on one night allegedly accounted for more than 70%.
"One Movement has been a disaster for the Government from go to woe and Tourism Minister Kim Hames must say enough is enough," he claimed. "If he had any sense, he'd be scrapping the agreement with One Movement before this inquiry gets underway."
In a statement, managing director of event partner Sunset Events Dave Chitty says his live music company "at this stage does not wish to comment on what is largely a political debate. The inquiry is focused on Tourism WA and its practices, not Sunset Events. We do note, however, that it was originally the Labor Government which approved the funding for this event and we are disappointed that this inquiry is proceeding despite the event having already undergone considerable parliamentary analysis."
A spokesperson for Sunset Events says plans are underway for a third One Movement for Music event, details of which were to be unveiled by the end of March.
News of the inquiry is another black eye for an event which has been dogged by questions about the WA's Government's cash support. One Movement launched in October 2009 with a long-term plan to generate tourism and arts benefits for the state, and serve as a regular music industry summit for the Austral-Asian music industry.
While it's nothing unusual for an Australian music conference to enjoy support from local or state government coffers, the size of the cash on One Movement has made it a big target.
Each year, One Movement receives an estimated $1 million Australian of tourism funding, which is ostensibly meant for helping attract people to the remote Western Australian capital. The next biggest slice of public funding is from the City Of Perth, reputedly at around $200,000.
Although questions about the government funding never went away, One Movement returned last November for its second edition, with the likes of Paul Kelly and Karnivool headlining the festival component.
The Committee intends to report on the inquiry to the Legislative Council by June 30.