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Priority must be “the word”

The State Government has splurged almost half a million dollars on a failed tourism event called Word Adelaide at the same time as country health is starved of funds, the economy is in trouble and South Australians are struggling under the ever-increasing state tax burden.

“The event was an unmitigated disaster, with taxpayers' money being spent on an unattended festival and its headline act described as 'flaccid' by The Advertiser,” Shadow Tourism Minister David Ridgway said.

“I understand the festival cost the taxpayers of this state more than $400,000 to run at a time when country health is starved of funds and Mr Weatherill is cutting hospital beds and staff.”

In mid-August, Adelaide hosted the Word Adelaide festival. This was supposed to be August's answer to the Adelaide Fringe and Festival, a counterpoint to Mad March and a springboard for new festivals in the state.

“Disappointingly, the state chose to focus the festival on a microscopically small niche market, with little potential for success. It was an ill-guided and misjudged cash splash,” Mr Ridgway said.

“In fact, a source told me that the Fringe Festival considered running shows of a similar theme but discarded the idea as it was unprofitable.

“We also deserve to know how much guests, especially the international ones such as Matt Lucas and Gary Kemp, were paid to attend the festival, how much was spent on dining and entertaining them and how much was spent on their airfares.

“What we do know for sure is that these costs fell well short of the combined ticket sales for all the events.”

Word Adelaide’s headline act had to be moved from the Entertainment Centre because of poor ticket sales and was then staged at Her Majesty's Theatre.

“I am advised that ticket sales were so slow that organisers were forced to give away free tickets to get people on seats,” Mr Ridgway said.

“Mr Weatherill must get his priorities in order.

“South Australians deserve a Government with better priorities to get our State back on track.”

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