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Monday, 29 August 1994
Page: 474

Senator DENMAN —My question is directed to the Minister for Trade. Australia already has several cultural export successes to its credit, which were highlighted at a recent conference on cultural industries. What is the government doing to ensure that we build and capitalise on this depth of talent to increase the exports of Australia's cultural industries?

Senator Patterson —You are delaying your cultural statement.

Senator McMULLAN —Senator Patterson likes to talk about people's cultural industry policies. Would she like me to talk about her leader's change in policy from day to day? One day he is for something and the next day he is against it.

The PRESIDENT —Stick to the question, Senator.

Senator McMULLAN —I am very happy to respond to their interjections when they are so helpful to me.

The PRESIDENT —I think it would be wise not to, Minister.

Senator McMULLAN —Please tell them not to make interjections that are quite so helpful. In light of our very recent tremendous success in sport, about which everybody is so properly excited and delighted, I think it is appropriate that we also note the success that we are having internationally in the cultural area and, in particular, the trade and export potential of our cultural sector broadly, which Senator Denman so accurately referred to as being highlighted at a recent conference.

  One of the preconditions for export success in all industries is a strong domestic industry. The government is giving a lot of support through its policies, for example, on local content in commercial television and assistance to our film industry. The government's export services study has made it clear that our cultural activities exports are world competitive.

  There is a range of success beyond the obvious. There are people doing very well in areas of theatrical support services through the Really Useful group. The Sydney Opera House has a very profitable consultancy for the development of the Seoul arts centre. Bytecraft, a very successful company in Melbourne, is involved in the design and manufacture of high quality electronic control systems. It is increasing its exports and, as a consequence, increasing its employment. Therefore, a range of significant and welcome benefits is flowing economically. There are, of course, export successes in areas like feature films and popular music.

  In the context of our great success in sport, I want to comment on the tremendous success of the Australian Opera at the Edinburgh Festival. The performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Baz Luhmann, was an outstanding success. It has been generally regarded by all the critics as the great success of the festival. The Times said it was an evening of pure enchantment; the Guardian said:

Never will you see a production as beautiful as this.

This first venture by the Australian Opera into the northern hemisphere has been a sell-out.

Senator Alston —Tell us about your policy on—

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Alston.

Senator McMULLAN —I realise that the honourable senator is about to rise on a point of order to give me extra time. It is true that we have had tremendous success in the area of the arts. I do not want in any way to take away from the proper focus of attention on the wonderful performances outlined by Senator Faulkner that our sporting people have achieved in this last week. Australians are properly proud that our sports-people are doing so well in Canada. But it says very good things about our country and our society that, at the same time, our artists have had great success at one of the premier cultural events of the western world, the Edinburgh Festival. Because we are doing so well on so many fronts is not a cause for either complacency or arrogance, but it should be a cause for a very real sense of satisfaction and pride for all Australians.