Members of the Melbourne-based Salt Shakers Christian ethics lobby group will petition the NSW government to revoke its funding of Mardi Gras on grounds of falsified crowd estimates and revenue figures.
Salt Shakers executive officer Peter Stokes said claims of 500,000 spectators were impossible, and says his own calculations estimate the crowd to be no more than 70,000.
-œWe pointed out many years ago that these numbers were an absolute impossibility. You don’t need to be Einstein to work out how many people could be there, Stokes told Southern Star.
-œMardi Gras sponsors and now the NSW government have been duped by this organisation and we will be encouraging our members to make sure that they are aware.
Stokes said the Salt Shakers would oppose any amount of funding, even a lesser figure, for religious reasons.
The organisation has previously petitioned Mardi Gras sponsors like Qantas and Ford to drop their event sponsorship.
-œWe are opposed to the idea of government funding because the whole thing is a promotion of sexual immorality, but apart from that we are opposed to the gross exaggerations that are a fraud when it comes to selling Mardi Gras as a community event that brings in X amount of people, Stokes said.
New Mardi Gras general manager Anna McInnerney said crowd figures were generated by external organisations, making the suggestion that New Mardi Gras falsified its figures -œludicrous.
-œThe $30 million figure was not produced by Mardi Gras at all, it was done by Department of State Development economists, she said.
-œWe had to submit ticketing data to them, extensive spreadsheets, our marketing and media plans and numbers of participants in the parade -” which are all then used to estimate the economic impact of Mardi Gras for the state and for Australia, so Mr Stokes might want to take it up with the state’s economists if he has a problem with that number.
In terms of crowd estimates, McInnerney said the figure was estimated each year in conjunction with the NSW Police Force, who patrol the route.
However a NSW Police spokesperson denied the organisation helped estimate crowd numbers.
-œWe would develop our own estimates prior to the event and may on occasion do our own crowd estimates, but they are internal figures which would not be released, the spokesperson said.