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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 2848


Senator GRIMES (Minister for Community Services)(11.09) —I think I should just put some balance into this discussion. Senator Michael Baume and I had a discussion about this matter the other night. Sure, some of the organisations which are funded by the Australia Council would not meet with Senator Michael Baume's approval. Some of them, I dare say, would not meet with my approval. But I point out that there is a great diversity. As well as the Palestinians, the Finns on several occasions, the Ukrainians, the Hungarians, the Portuguese, the Arabic groups and the Croatian groups were funded. I notice that the New South Wales branch of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union has received funding and, from memory, it is quite a respectable trade union compared with its colleague in Victoria. I notice that funding was provided for the purpose of producing a mural. I am very much in favour of murals. Even Senator Newman might agree that the mural which was painted on the Trades Hall in Launceston, although it might be a bit revolutionary for her, adds to the city as do other murals of that type.

I remember the fuss and the extensive discussion that took place in respect of the brochure that Senator Michael Baume mentioned. I cannot add anything further; I will find out whether the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment (Mr Cohen) can. The group in South Australia mentioned by the honourable senator, a group whose name escapes me for the moment, is part of the art and working life program of which he disapproves so much and of which I approve. I do not think I shall rehash that matter.

I will certainly not enter into the row here about Theatre ACT. I can get further details for Senator Baume. I know that the local Arts Development Board supports it as well as the Arts Council of the Australian Capital Territory. I know that the grant is to be used to train an ensemble of actors as part of an effective 1986-87 program. I know that there is a terrible amount of controversy in the Australian Capital Territory and I also know that there are two sides to that controversy. I certainly do not want to get in the middle by saying anything silly here in case I have to go to a social function in town in the near future. I know that there is a very effective lobby by another arts group in town against Theatre ACT. I am not in a position to judge the merits of it. All I know is that this matter creates more and more controversy as the evening waxes moister. I do not want to be involved in that controversy. I will leave it to the Minister to respond to Senator Baume.