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Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee
(Senate-Tuesday, 23 April 2013)
ACTING CHAIR (Senator Thorp)
- Senator HUMPHRIES
Content WindowRural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee
HALL, Mr Rodney, Private capacity
Evidence was taken via teleconference—
ACTING CHAIR: Welcome. Do you have any comments to make on the capacity in which you appear?
Mr Hall : I was once chairman of the Australia Council but I am now representing no-one but myself.
ACTING CHAIR: You have lodged submission 118. Would you like to make any amendments or additions to the submission?
Mr Hall : No, apart from taking up your kind invitation to make a statement.
ACTING CHAIR: Thank you. I invite you to make a brief opening statement and then the committee will ask questions.
Mr Hall : Thank you, senators, for the opportunity. I apologise for not being there in person but that could not be arranged. To address the issue there are, as I see it, two fundamentals to the problem of the new bill and they are peer assessment and arms-length decision making. I like to give an example. Peer assessment is perfectly encompassed for me in the Sydney Opera House. When the panel of peers chose the Utzon design, the public outcry was tremendous, as many of us will remember. Public mockery was the order of the day and the press and the public poured scorn on the idea, because the building had not even got to the stage of technical drawings. But we know now that the peers were right and you could not take a tile off the roof of the Opera House without the whole of the city being up in arms. The essence of peer assessment, to me, is that the peers not only know the practice but know the direction the practice is going in, which non-peers are not in a privileged position to be able to guess. One would have to multiply that example by many thousands at all scales to get some grip of what the Australia Council has delivered over the 45 years since it was first set up. This leads to the structure.
The Australia Council structure is not, I think, clearly understood in the public, and it is certainly not understood in the review of the Council and the preparation of material for the bill. I think it is clear if one can visualise peer assessment as a kind of ladder, with two uprights and three rungs. One upright is the peer assessors, the other upright is the professional staff, and they are connected with a rung at each level. As I look at it, the ladder's strength comes from vertical integration. In this case, the peer assessment panel is in touch with arts needs and practice as well as understanding the direction the arts is taking. These panels are convened at the first level by an arts formed board, which is the second level, and the board chair at the top level, who is the chair of the council. The staff structure on the other leg mirrors this—both vertical and horizontal connections. So it is not a business model. It is a model specifically for the function that it performs.
The proof is in the pudding during the whole span of 45 years since Harold Holt first proposed the council and John Gorton set it up. There has never been, so far as I am aware, a single incident of government interference or pressure or intervention until now. Now government threatens to repeal its own serviceable act and demolish the artform boards replacing the council—a council which is at present informed from the grassroots up to the top—with a corporate style board exclusively centred on administration and money, and governing from the top down. I think this would have tremendous impact throughout the community, not just the arts community.
The rationale they propose is to make the council, as they say, more flexible and to accommodate new art forms connected to computers in the age of the internet. That is not a difficult thing to do. Mostly, their argument is mere spin. It is couched in good intentions but it has a simplistic assumption of this being the beginning of history: the future starts now as if the past and the present can be dismissed as mere heritage. If you genuinely wish to open things up for new artforms you add a rung or two to the ladder; you do not lop one leg off it and chop it up.
As for the heritage arts, which are talked about, well, mathematics, for example, is a heritage science. It is still at the core of every new development there is. The so-called heritage arts are a lot of talk in the tertiary institutions. Young people are coming out as trained professionals not in some general wobbly thing called the arts but as violinists or sculptors or photographers or dancers or whatever they happen to be. It begs the question: if you are going to do away with the artform boards then how are you going to assess the applications? I am sure the figures from sometime back have not changed much. In my day we had 4,000 clients and 40,000 applicants each year, which necessarily meant that 36,000 people were disappointed and often angry, and in some cases justifiably angry. It is unavoidable. You have to have categories or you cannot make decisions. You cannot make comparisons. This has been tried once before under Timothy Pascoe. The council divided its grants up into categories of individuals, companies, and then big companies and small companies and so on. But the logistics of getting a panel together that can actually assess what are, for example, young artists. Is someone who is 25 young and someone who is 26 not young? Categories are always, to a certain degree, arbitrary but without them you cannot make informed comparisons and informed decisions for spending taxpayers' money in a responsible manner.
I think the proposals that the bill puts up are (a) not needed because you can fulfil all those aspirations with the present model and (b) they are set up to actually destroy something that is flexible and workable. I have no doubt that the council has been somewhat off the rails in the past decade almost and needed reform and needed a shakeup. The biggest thing that needed a shakeup—and to give credit to the proposal, this would shake it up—is the fixed division of the budget between the artform boards. I worked for three years to try and break that down but without success largely because of opposition from other members of the council and from the staff. But I do think that could definitely be re-looked at. There is no reason why the council should not, under the present act, be reshaped in ways to fulfil the objectives that the argument for the bill proposes. Thank you. Roughly speaking, that is all I want to say.
ACTING CHAIR: Thank you very much. We will go to senators for questions.
Senator HUMPHRIES: Thank you very much for that critique, Mr Hall. Your experience at the helm of the Australia Council obviously makes the evidence you have given carry some weight. Can I ask about this question about funding applications across art forms. You have put in, I think, a valid defence of the idea of the silos which look at excellence in individual areas of arts practice, but how do you deal effectively with this question of applications which cross art forms? You mentioned Timothy Pascoe's experience with that. I take it that was not a great success. What ought to happen to make that succeed?
Mr Hall : Firstly, I have a problem with the image of silos, which suggests that there were closed and fortified, as it were, exclusive entities. In fact, they were never like that. Over its whole history the Council has been able, to some degree anyway, to cooperate across boards to deal with applications that use multiple art forms. I admit they were clumsy mechanisms, and good mechanisms could easily be put in place. But I would cite the case of when the minister appointed an IT specialist, Kerry Cutler, in the late-1990s. He was a terrific appointment and someone who was very forward-looking about all those issues of delivery—because, after all, the IT themes are basically delivery platforms and not content. But he was bitterly opposed by the then general manager and her staff, and resigned very shortly after his appointment—just on the basis that he was not going to ruin his life in a three-year battle.
The fact is that there should be a quite easy mechanism for dealing with the sorts of applications you are talking about. We have had, at one stage or another in the Council's existence, a new art form board, which was a running concern that had as its brief being adaptable to all sorts of new types of applications that did not fall into the previous categories. That idea of a floating fund, that is adaptable to many applications, would fit perfectly well in the structure that we have. They do exist, these very interesting applications—and they are often very adventurous—but, when you stand back from it and look at the 40,000 applications, 90 per cent of them fall into the traditional categories. The very interesting 10 per cent—it is probably not as much as 10 per cent—is a very interesting category and should be welcomed and embraced. That can be done without destroying the others.
Senator HUMPHRIES: Okay. Can I turn to a different issue. The proposal in this legislation is that we get away from the idea of the Australia Council being a collection of representatives of particular art forms who come to the Council with a sense of defending their particular patch of the arts. The suggestion has been made, including by Ms Trainor and Mr James this morning, that the Australia Council in the past has been unable to take a strategic approach towards development of the arts because many of the members of the Council have effectively been there to protect their own patch of the arts. That is a criticism I have heard made many times. I put it to you that it is a fair criticism of the way that the Council has worked and that this legislation represents an attempt at least to depart from that model and get a broader overview approach, a more strategic approach, by the Council.
Mr Hall : I am very curious about this kind of statement that you think has been made. My experience of the council was that discussions were always extremely lively, at a very high intellectual level, never concerned with embattled things and always looking towards what could be done. It comes up against one obstacle, and that is the division of the cake. That is the budgetary thing. If I have ever in any sense heard council members from the board being defensive about the board it would only ever have been in defence of the budget as they had given it. That is understandable because they have to administer that budget as effectively as possible and, like anybody, they do not like surrendering budget. But that is solved by simply having a separate budget. Once the demarcation of their budget is fixed by the council and the cake is divided up, if they are going to get defensive it will be of this line. The point is that you get into it earlier. There is no reason to mash up the cake altogether. I think that the way it accrued over a great many years—and the division of the cake began in the days of Nugget Coombs and Jean Battersby—meant no-one could ever address it. We tried, but no-one could ever address it. It could easily be addressed by government by simply, if there were a budget increase, for example, designating that increase to this new area. I think you would find that any manifestation of defensiveness would vanish.
Mind you, I cannot speak for how council has been deliberating over the past eight to 10 years. The corporatism has really been quite extreme. It may well be that the art form people do feel defensive and have been on the back foot under a leadership that is primarily a commercial and corporate style, which it never used to be from its inception up until the beginning of the 21st century. So there may well be substance to that which I know nothing of, but all I can say is that there is no need for that to be the case if the leadership is good enough and the council is made to feel that it embraces the new. We always did, though. I have to say this in defence of what the council has done. For example, in 1993 the council gave its highest award, the artist creative fellowship, to Paula Dawson, who is a laser hologram artist. It is very hard to think of anything more high-tech, way out and less possible to categorise under any of the traditional art form boards than laser holograms. She is so brilliant at it she has a sensei ranking in Japan as a kind of mathematical genius, which she is. But I would just point out that there is that and many other instances of new art forms for which the council simply found a way to go. In that case she could not be under any of the boards, so the council took her on itself under the creative fellowship scheme.
I am sure there is room for great improvement, but I hear this combative thing that in some sense the art form boards are the enemy of progress within the arts. I think that is totally unjust.
Senator HUMPHRIES: If I could just interrupt, I am not sure the criticism of the Australia Council approach historically has been just that it has not embraced new art forms or has not understood their value across art form applications. It is that it has not been able to proceed strategically to develop good policies that are a departure from the concerns and turf of each of the representatives of the particular art forms who make up the membership of the council. You would have heard those criticisms, I am sure. You would be aware about what people say about the council being a club, being geographically centred around artists in Sydney and Melbourne and companies based there and so on. Isn't there any foundation to that sort of concern?
Mr Hall : I think there is foundation for that concern. I do not think it is hard to address. Very briefly at the very end of my term we did set up an idea where a member of each board would have a chance to sit in discussion with each other so that new ideas could be talked through where there was just one representative of each board who was interested in kind of breaking ground and finding where people were working that fell outside the categories. Of course it is a flawed system and any system that attempts fairness between the states, for example, which is a very big issue and takes quite a bit of the budget, we understand that because a mechanism has clunkiness in some of its parts does not necessarily mean that the main engine is not working. Once again I think there are very valid concerns there. I am out of date on that. I cannot speak with confidence on what has happened in recent times.
I have been very distressed by the direction the council has taken and I have been looking forward to the review because I felt it was high time that some pretty radical action was taken, but not this radical action. I think this takes it further down the track of distancing itself from any practical or practising reality and putting enormous power in the hands of the staff with this corporate model. The Australia Council over the years has had wonderful staff but they are human and they do like power and they do protect their power and they are a force for conservatism, in my experience. I think it is important to keep policy in contact with practice, not as a kind of theoretical thing. You cannot make art forms out of policy, you have to respond to what artists are doing and seize on that and have the flexibility to support it.
I think yes, the council should be much more flexible, it should be much more alert, but that requires it to be much more engaged with arts practice, not further distanced. The bureaucracy has become staggering. I know this is for Hansard and so I am not authorised to name names, but I was a guest in the office of one of the council's medium major clients and my host said, 'Look at this. I just got in the mail the acquittal forms from the Australia Council.' She handed me a sheaf of paper of I guess 30 or 40 pages, all of them with multiple categories of things to be answered. She said, 'I have to put a staff member for two months on this just to fulfil the red tape.' That is ridiculous. The acquittals are the delivery of the work to the public and there have got to be more exciting ways of having acquittals. One would be to re-set up the library that was abolished a few years back and have all the acquittals in the form of the actual art forms retrievable to the public. I think there are lot of ways this can be done. I am not denying your point, Senator. I think the people who complain very frequently we have listen to those complaints. They are very frequently right. It is just that the model that is being put up by the new act is to me exactly the wrong way to go.
Senator HUMPHRIES: That point you make about the power that would rest in the hands of staff at the Australia Council is the basis presumably for the comment in your submission about the new system being fraught with the probability of nepotism.
Mr Hall : I think there is no question of that. It is one thing to have a panel of peers which turns over. Going back a few years—I do not know what the present situation is—the traditional situation was that some peers were appointed for only one round and some for three years and some for different lengths of time in between those. In other words, you have a committee of people which is shifting. They are from all states and they are bringing in their experience. That is very different from a single staff member on whose desk any of these issues might land in the absence of that fluid committee of peers. From the moment you shift things from the peers to the staff, you actually rigidify them; you put power in the hands of one person.
There is an experience which I will share with you because it was so astonishing to me. When I was first appointed as chair of the Australia Council, I found that within a week I could not go anywhere in public without being surrounded with new friends. They were very charming and very importunate. For some reason, they all thought that I was a useful person for them to know. I worked entirely by consensus, so it was a complete waste of their time. The fact is that this is what happens to staff. People in the field know that the staff are the ones on the ground in the administration who will prepare the documents that go to the committees, and to have a friend in the staff is far more powerful than having a friend who is the chair of the whole organisation. I am not being critical of people on the staff; it is simply that the reality is that, once you give staff power, you do create almost certain nepotism. It is very hard for anyone to resist. It is very seductive. People are suddenly so nice to you and treat you with such respect. They invite you to things and give you tickets to things. It is very seductive.
Senator HUMPHRIES: Thank you very much, Mr Hall.
Senator BRANDIS: Thank you for appearing today. By the way, when you said 'nepotism' you really meant favouritism, I suppose, in the strict sense of the word.
Mr Hall : Sure—favouritism.
Senator BRANDIS: Mr Hall, you were appointed as the chair of the Australia Council by the government of Mr Hawke, were you?
Mr Hall : That is right.
Senator BRANDIS: But most of your years as the chair you served under the government of Mr Keating?
Mr Hall : That is correct.
Senator BRANDIS: I have read your submission. I am bound to say I agree with it. In your preamble, I particularly agree with your observation. I quote:
All the proposed reforms of the council can be achieved within the terms of the original act. The most cogent objection to the new act is that it is utterly unnecessary.
I invite you to elaborate upon that proposition. Do you see no hurdles at all in achieving the desirable better corporate governance objectives, which apparently underlie the restructuring which this legislation would effect, in the existing act?
Mr Hall : I see no obstacle. There is an implication that in some way council has not been corporately responsible in the way it has managed its money. That astonishes me. Certainly in my experience of it, both as a client and as the chair of the council, the council has been ultrameticulous over the years to have all the fiscal aspects of its management absolutely open and above board. As I know, during the time when it affected me, at Senate estimates one would be subjected, as general manager, with a barrage of very detailed questions. In common with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs, the arts were, at least at that stage, the most scrutinised of all government expenditures. There is that implication that I am surprised by. It would have to have been something that has happened since my direct experience at that level. It may look like a very eccentric way of putting a board together if you take a business model, but then business is not run on peer assessment. So the model that the council has developed has been specific to that.
I will get back to your point. I think that that little quote you gave from my submission says that, because the original act is visionary in the way it sets out the council's priorities and its functions, it does allow for the development of all sorts of instrumentalities within the council, which have not yet been explored. Hence I said a moment ago that when I heard about the review I was very delighted because I thought, 'Yes, the council needs a major shake-up. I think it needs to be looked at.' But it can be shaken up and reformed, and it can embrace all these new things within the terms of the original act.
I really do not see any necessity for making it into this kind of corporate, streamlined model which I think will not be flexible in terms of its delivery to the arts or the public. I think it is a completely unnecessary thing to do, and I was really astonished that Simon Crean as minister would even have gone as far as to repeal the act. That was pretty surprising to me.
Senator BRANDIS: Mr Crean had a lot of other things on his mind, I suppose! Mr Hall, if I may say so, I think you put your finger on it when you said, 'This might be a good business model but business doesn't work by peer assessment.' What I am trying to grapple with is the cogency of the argument in favour of these reforms. Having the council comprise the chairs of the Artform boards really disables the council from taking an appropriately strategic and sufficiently corporate view of, particularly, its planning and its long-term objectives. I have had long discussions with, among others, Mr Myer the new chairman, about this. I hope I do them justice if I paraphrase their argument that it is not really corporate best practice to have, as it were, fiefdoms of stakeholders comprising the board. I think there is some force in that, I am bound to say, though, equally, I do not think it is the end of the matter.
Can I draw you out on your response to that criticism, because it seems to me that that underlies this restructuring—that to have a board or a council of competing fiefdoms is substandard corporate governance and corporate practice.
Mr Hall : Thank you. With great clarity you have put that case. To me they are not warring. I had no experience of that. They were always extremely co-operative and interested in each other's programs and interested in learning from each other and adapting the kinds of practices which arose from one section that might have been applied to the whole. So I do not buy the warring fiefdoms thing. In my experience I never saw that, I am pleased to say. If that happens—
Senator BRANDIS: Just pausing there, when you came to the chairmanship of the board in 1991, were you aware, either by direct experience or anecdotal evidence, that that had been a problem under previous chairs, either?
Mr Hall : Well, I inherited what I saw to be a very significant problem. I succeeded Donald Horne, and Donald had politicised the council in a way that I thought was damaging to it. I do believe that the arts should be quite separate from that. So there was evidence of just what you say in terms of the Community Cultural Development Board, which had powers to police the other boards to fulfil its programs to do with multiculturalism, equal opportunity and other things—very important things in society. I am a full subscriber to those principles but they are not the way that art operates; they are not intrinsic to that. Whereas they exist there, they should not, in my view, have punitive powers within the organisation. So that was something that I tackled straight away, and I put that board on exactly the same footing as the other boards and did away with their sort of super-board status. So, yes, there have been ups and downs of this sort, and so there will be, but, as I say, the original act allows for all that flexibility.
Senator BRANDIS: Given that your own lived experience as the chair during those years was that you were able to do that under the terms of the then existing acts, it seems very persuasive to me. Could I turn to a different—
Mr Hall : If I may, Senator—
Senator BRANDIS: Yes, please; I did not mean to cut you off.
Mr Hall : One other little thing about that was this. Another thing that had been happening prior to my taking over was that a lot of people on the boards had their positions renewed, had their appointments renewed. I actually went to the minister and asked the minister to provide me with a letter of concern about this issue, because I was arguing it against an antagonistic council, but I got it through that there would be no reappointments—and I applied that to myself, because I was actually offered some renewal, which I would have liked, but I had applied it to everyone else so I lived by my own rules. By the time I left, every single person who had been on an advisory panel when I came in was now off it. It was an entire, complete clean sweep of the people doing the advice. So it can be done under the system; it just requires someone with the will to do it and the interest in doing it.
Senator BRANDIS: I want to turn to a different topic, but, if I may say so, I do find your evidence very illuminating. Is there anything more you want to say on these structural issues before we turn to something else?
Mr Hall : I think not. I think that is roughly what I have to say on it.
Senator BRANDIS: Thank you. I now want to turn to the question of the redefinition of the functions of the council. Under the 1975 act, by section 5, the council is given nine specific functions. I will take you to ones that I am particularly interested in in a moment, but, in the rewrite that we are considering today, those functions are substantially altered—in many cases, entirely displaced—and I wonder why. In particular, under the existing act, one of the functions of the council is:
… to provide, and encourage the provision of, opportunities for persons to practise the arts …
That is gone from the new bill. Another, 5(a)(iv), is:
… to promote the general application of the arts in the community …
That has gone. Section 5(a)(v) is:
… to foster the expression of a national identity by means of the arts …
That has gone. Section 5(a)(vi) is:
… to uphold and promote the right of persons to freedom in the practice of the arts …
That has gone from the functions of the council, but is relocated to another provision about matters to which the council should have regard. And 5(a)(ix) is:
… to encourage the support of the arts by the States, local governing bodies and other persons and organizations …
That has gone. My question to you, Mr Hall, is: do you think the removal of any or all of those functions from the Australia Council's governing act is an appropriate or a good thing?
Mr Hall : I think you have nailed it exactly. What is it about those provisions that warrants deletion?. It seems to me that all of them are very worthy aims. I suppose how one could characterise it is that those are the functions under the old act which are to do with the council being a kind of advocate for the arts in the community and the idea of the arts as a kind of cultural enrichment of the community—and that that is what we deliver through the council for the taxpayers' input. We deliver cultural richness at all levels, including at regional and community levels. Actually, the nine points in the original act are pretty good. I think Nugget Coombs or whoever drafted those did a very good job of them. But you pointing that out is very significant because it is to do with the attempted relocation of the council as an administrator of a block of public funds, in order to generate income to an industry. We all know we can put things in different categories; we can examine the arts as an industry we like, but in point of fact that is not how arts operate. They generate money, which could be called an industry, but the arts are what make the market—the market does not exist until the work of art is created to make the market. One could illustrate this by saying there is a new novel by Peter Malouf, let us say, and it may sell 500 copies but if it is by Peter Carey it will sell 500,000 copies, if it is by David Malouf it will sell 200,000 copies. So the artist makes the market. It is not the other way around. Removing these provisions from the act is to relocate the council as a manager of resources to generate other resources, rather than a manager of resources to invest in the development and exploration of where art is taking us including the new art forms and the new electronic platforms of delivery. To me, the old act is on that very basis actually a more practical and workable document for the exploration of the new than the bill that is before you.
Senator BRANDIS: You have touched on quite a number of issues in those remarks, Mr Hall, but if I might focus on one topic in particular: this bill seems to have been written as if the community, or the general public, did not exist. There is no acknowledgement in the bill, as there is in the existing act, of the community or of, for example, the importance of the Australia Council having regard to what happens in the states and in community organisations. Would you agree with me that it is one side of the Australia Council's functions to provide support to arts practitioners and arts companies but it is an equally important aspect of its role to make the arts accessible to the broader community and to what is sometimes called the arts public, whether it be in the capital cities or in the regions, in particular?
Mr Hall : I absolutely agree with you—and it always distresses me. A very long time ago, Jean Battersby was asked in an interview what the functions of the council were, and she said they were 'to spot talent and to bring it to the maximum number of people'.
Senator BRANDIS: That is not a bad working definition, is it?
Mr Hall : It is a good working definition; you are absolutely right. I suppose, if one grows up as a Queenslander as I did—and you will know this—we know that one of the problems in Australia is for the regions to get a fair deal and for the regions to get a share of the enrichment that is taken for granted in a place like Melbourne or Sydney. I think that whole community responsibility is a very important part of what the Council has done in the past and should be doing.
Senator BRANDIS: There is no point in 'wearying' out my colleagues by us continuing to be in furious agreement with each other, Mr Hall, so I will pass on to one last point. Again, it is about the functions of the Council. Under the existing act, the 1975 act, the first of the identified functions of the Council is 'to promote excellence in the arts'. That has been replaced in the bill by two objectives, and these are the two that talk about excellence:
(a) to support Australian arts practice that is recognised for excellence;
(b) to foster excellence in Australian arts practice by supporting a diverse range of activities ...
It seems to me that, however you read the words in the bill, that is a narrower conception of excellence than the existing act, which merely says 'to promote excellence in the arts'. In particular, it seems to me that subclause (a):
… to support Australian arts practice that is recognised for excellence …
implies or directs attention only to established artists with an established reputation.
Mr Hall : Exactly.
Senator BRANDIS: And subclause (b):
… to foster excellence in Australian arts practice by supporting a diverse range of activities …
'Diversity' is the word of the age and everybody thinks diversity is a good thing, but diversity is only one of a number of desiderata which might constitute excellence, and to identify it alone, it seems to me, is a dangerous narrowing of the overall objective of fostering excellence.
Mr Hall : Yes, I completely agree. And it is a closing off of the new. What it is attacking, Senator, is the actual excellence itself. I am currently in rehearsal for a performance in Brisbane at the conservatorium, which uses a string quartet, a koto player, a speaker, and a video artist. When we put that together we wanted the composer to be a really cracker composer. We wanted the string quartet to be an excellent string quartet, we wanted the koto player to be a virtuoso and we wanted the best scripts we could get. The pursuit of excellence in that sense is not the spread. The spread is represented by who you bring together.
I think you quite rightly point out that new provisions are entirely to do with some preconceived idea of a saleable product, because it has had endorsement already. I think the old act is much more open to exploring, much more open to saying, 'Let's get excellence as our very first principle'—promoting excellence. I have to say that the Council had a lot to do with the training institutions in its early days and with the idea of training for excellence. Once we have got the excellence we can make an exciting mix out of it, but excellence does not, except in rare case, come from a predesignated spread of a multiple, jack-of-all-trades attitude to what the arts are. I do believe very much that the original nine points are pretty succinct. It is very interesting to read into it what the new direction is breaking down as much as what it is trying to put in its place.
Senator BRANDIS: I suppose the way I would put it, Mr Hall, is that, although nobody is ever going to be able to agree on what excellence is, you can nevertheless narrow its meaning by limiting it—and that is an undesirable thing.
Mr Hall : I think you have to limit it in order to respond to comparative excellence. If we say something is absolutely outstanding or is virtuoso, we are comparing within a framework that is narrower than being completely open, as it were. I think the rewrite is in fact a narrowing process itself; the original is more open than the proposed replacements.
Senator BRANDIS: Thank you very much, Mr Hall. That is very helpful.
Mr Hall : Thank you, Senator Brandis
ACTING CHAIR : Thank you, Mr Hall, and thank you very much for your attendance today.
Mr Hall : Thank you all. It is a pleasure to be able to speak to you.