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Australian One Movement Festival Sparks Political Battle

PERTH (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Western Australia's Parliament has announced it intends to investigate more than $3 million (AUD) in grants given to the Perth-based One Movement festival.

According to the newspaper West Australian, The Standing Committee on Estimates and Financial Operations has launched an investigation into support of the event by the Western Australian Tourism Commission and its subsidiaries, with some ministers openly critical of government support for the event and calling for a criminal investigation.

"One Movement has been a disaster for the Government from go to woe and Tourism Minister Kim Hames must say enough is enough," Shadow culture and the arts minister John Hyde told the West Australian. "If he had any sense, he'd be scrapping the agreement with One Movement before this inquiry gets underway."

The controversy was sparked by revelations that at the 2010 event, a large percentage of attendees were given free passes.

"On the Saturday night of the 2010 festival, the main event of the festival, only 1647 tickets were sold while 4017 were given away as freebies." Hyde said. "That means 71 per cent of the audience attended for free, despite (former Tourism Minister Liz) Constable's claims the event was one of her major tourism drivers."

Mr Hyde also said an investigation by Public Sector Commissioner Mal Wauchope in February 2010 confirmed a conflict of interest in Tourism WA (Western Australia).

"The Commissioner found Tourism WA's event director Saskia Doherty 'worked directly on approval arrangements for the One Movement Music Festival, then went on and worked for a majority stakeholder in that event'.

"His report revealed, and deemed it inappropriate, that Ms Doherty, while still an employee of Tourism WA, took a free trip to London paid for by One Movement's backer Sunset Events after she had been involved in negotiations for One Movement funding."

Doherty joined one of One Movement’s organizers, Sunset Events, after being involved in negotiations for the festival’s funding.

Sunset has declined to comment on the matter directly but David Chitty, managing director and promoter of Sunset Events, suggested to Australian music blog The Music Network that the issue was largely a political debate and that "The inquiry is focused on Tourism WA and its practices, not Sunset Events," – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers