Bill Shorten's $50m MONA gamble to 'back in the future of Tasmanian tourism', but will it pay off?
Millionaire gambler David Walsh has argued that the ALP's proposed $50 million election pledge to help fund public areas of his private Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) was a winning bet.
Bill Shorten says the MONA millions will "back in the investment made by private investors"
The money is for public facilities including a convention centre, theatre, library and playgrounds at MONA
The tourism industry welcomes the pledge as a "welcome shift in sentiment"
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten made the announcement, as part of a $120 million Tasmanian tourism funding promise, if Labor is elected on May 18.
The MONA money is to be spent on public components of proposed MONA developments, including a convention centre, theatre, library and playgrounds.
Mr Walsh opened MONA in 2011 and it attracts thousands of tourists to Tasmania every year, as well as running the Dark Mofo festival in winter, which was traditionally a dead season for tourism.
Mr Shorten said MONA was world-leading and the flagship of Tasmania's tourism industry.
"We want to back in the future of Tasmanian tourism, we want to back in the investment which has been made by private investors in MONA," he said.
"Paris may have the Louvre, you've got the Guggenheim and other great international exhibits but it's Australia, not just Tasmania that has the MONA.
"It's not only leading in Australia, it's leading throughout the world, and it's fun."
Amid criticism the money could have been spent on housing or health, Mr Walsh said it was not up to him to choose where the funds went.
In an exclusive interview with the ABC, Mr Walsh said the investment would pay off.
"As a gambler if you want to place a bet on something, you might as well place a bet on something that's already winning," he said.
"The $50 million doesn't line my pockets because it just disappears into the cultural asset.