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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6405


Mr GARRETT (Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts) (10:25 AM) —I welcome the question from the shadow minister for the arts on ANAM and on our arts policy generally. I am happy to provide additional information for him. The government has provided the appropriate level of support for the provision of elite music training to take place at ANAM, and for that to be done in a way which is consistent with the goals the government identified for the long term for this training institution. That is to broaden its training remit and for it to have not only a specific training focus which is on specialised instrument learning but more generally on areas such as concert management, conducting and the like. I have had the opportunity to visit ANAM and I met with the senior staff and the students. I am very happy to report to the shadow minister in this consideration in detail debate that they are very satisfied with the arrangements that the government has put in place and there is a high degree of confidence that those students will have every opportunity to pursue the elite classical training courses that they have identified and want to undertake. On the question of this government’s commitment to the arts, we have actually brought forward in this budget—


Mr Ciobo interjecting


Mr GARRETT —Can I point out to the shadow minister, as he interjects wildly, that we have actually provided an additional investment of some $62.3 million to the arts on this matter, including—


The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. BC Scott)—Order! The member for Moncrieff. The minister has the call.


Mr GARRETT —I do have the call—some $9.6 million to the Artstart program and $5.4 million support for arts training organisations to support our nation’s brightest young artists, artists such as those who are at ANAM. Additionally, the government are going to provide support for territory orchestras and many small to medium-sized arts organisations. These organisations are absolutely critical stepping stones for the careers of many emerging artists and performers. We are delivering $9.9 million to strengthen Australia’s Indigenous visual arts sector. I look forward to the opposition taking a constructive role when the resale royalty legislation is introduced into the parliament. It is my strong view that the resale royalty legislation provides the opportunity for Indigenous visual artists to take some benefit from their work, particularly over the medium to longer term and in the case of succession.

I am very pleased to say that the budget also brings renewed funding of some $8 million for the Books Alive program. This is the biggest annual promotion of books and reading that takes place in Australia. This is a commitment to enable Australians to continue that great exercise of enjoying local Australian authors, authors who operate in the fiction and non-fiction market and also authors who write for a younger audience. I think everybody here in the parliament would agree that encouraging young Australians to take a keen interest in literature, to read, to develop the enthusiasms and the passions for the writing heritage that we have and to discover new writers is absolutely critical and urgent. The government’s commitment there is a real one.

On the question of the opposition’s attitude in relation to arts generally, I had the opportunity to speak at a CEDA event in Queensland, the home state of the shadow minister, not that long ago. I made the point that, whenever you hear the opposition raise an issue about arts and culture, it is with a view to trying to wedge the community, trying to play short-term political games with what is one of the most important national interest foundations of our community, which is a healthy and strongly supported arts and culture sector. This government is entirely focused on providing the necessary level of support. It gives me the opportunity in my closing remarks to point out that, when we went to the last election, the opposition did not have an arts policy at all. For artists, for arts organisations, for cultural organisations around Australia witnessing this complete lack of interest and total lack of commitment on the part of the coalition to bring in genuine policy proposals for the Australian arts community, enough is said. This government is strongly and fully committed to a healthy arts sector. This country will continue that commitment. (Time expired)