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Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Page: 1924


Mr PERRETT (Moreton) (14:58): My question is the Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government and Minister for the Arts. Will the minister update the House on the government's plan to strengthen the future of the arts, cultural heritage and creative industries in Australia?

Mr CREAN (HothamMinister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government and Minister for the Arts) (14:58): I thank the member for Moreton for his question, because I know of his long and passionate commitment to the arts, and his contribution to them, for that matter. This actually is a day of firsts, because this is the first question I have ever had on the arts. I cannot get one from the other side of the House. But the other first is that it is the first cultural policy this country has had for 18 years, and the last one was delivered by a Labor government too. In terms of the commitment to bipartisanship, we welcome it from the other side—but we never get the leadership, we never get the direction and we never get the ideas, and the big ideas, that demonstrate it.

Today, Creative Australia has seen an injection of $235 million extra in support of the arts. Why is this government investment important? Firstly, governments have to invest in our culture and our creative industries. Why?—because culture defines us. We are home to the oldest living culture on earth, and we have been welcoming to the greatest diversity of cultures on earth. This is what has made us unique, and it is why we have to preserve it, nurture it, invest in it and build upon it.

Secondly, if governments do make this investment there is a social dividend and an economic dividend. The social dividend is our values—values of inclusion and values of respect—which are the sorts of things that all of us want for our kids and all of us want for a healthy society. Investing in the arts pays dividends in that regard. But there is also an economic dividend, because a creative economy is also a more productive economy. In this day and age it is not enough simply to embrace technology unless we are consistently, creatively adding to it. Seeing the artist at the centre of a creative society and seeing a creative society central to our future as a nation is why this investment needs to be made.

The final thing is that already in this economy there are 531,000 people employed in the creative industries—531,000! This is close to five per cent of our workforce, and it is a sector, the growth of which is almost double that of the rest of the workforce. This is a growing industry. This is our future. Governments should invest in it, but it has taken another Labor government to do it. We ask the other side to get on side with us, because it is in the interests of the nation to do it.