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Thursday, 3 June 1976

Mr MALCOLM FRASER (WANNON, VICTORIA) (Prime Minister) - by leave- I should like to inform the House of measures the Government is taking in the area of the arts. The Government will be providing next year $33.8m exclusive of Australia Council administrative costs for support for the arts. I might add that those administrative costs last year were quite substantial. This continued high level of support emphasises the Government's firm commitment to support and encourage the development of the arts throughout the Australian community.

In line with economies elsewhere we have aimed at eliminating unnecessary expenditure, but equally we have sought to ensure that no important or worthwhile programs suffer. Providing a national stimulus to the arts is in accordance with our philosophy of freedom of individual expression. We believe in freedom for artist and patron alike. For this reason we do not see the Government as the only or necessarily the major source of art patronage. Ideally, the arts through individual and community patronage should be self-supporting, but there are few if any places where this happens. Even in the United States, the Federal Government has in recent years had to play a part, and government support for the arts is an accepted fact in the cultural life of Western Europe.

It is one of the Commonwealth Government's tasks to see how best the arts programs of all levels of Government in Australia might complement and support each other, to minimise duplication and overlap and to provide the greatest measure of fulfilment for artists and audiences. We believe a genuinely vigorous and stimulating artistic climate will emerge only when governments, individuals, private enterprises and corporations are actively and cooperatively offering decentralised and diversified patronage for the arts in our community. A diversity and plurality of support can only strengthen the arts to the general common good. Let me emphasise that our aim is to broaden support for the arts, to have more funds flowing from different sources. We are not seeking to find substitutes for Government assistance, but to expand on that necessary base.

In this connection, the Government is having examined the possibility of taxation concessions or other incentives for the arts, and ways and means of encouraging individual and private enterprise and corporate patronage. Internationally, the Government will continue to foster cultural exchanges. We will support programs to bring arts and artists from abroad. We will also support the promotion of Australian arts and artists overseas. Of the latter, one example among many is our program of activities in connection with the American Bicentennial Celebrations which includes the forthcoming tour of the Australian Ballet.

Turning to specific issues, in December last year we established the Administrative Review Committee to review government expenditure and recommend on ways of eliminating waste and duplication within and between departments and agencies, and between Commonwealth and State government bodies. As one of its first tasks the Committee undertook an examination of the operations of the Australia Council, the Film and Television School, and the Australian Film Commission. The Australia Council had itself recognised management and other organisational difficulties. It has separately commissioned an inquiry into its operations by McKinsey and Company Inc. Both this report and the Council's views on it were available to the Committee. The Government has reached a number of decisions on the structure and future of its arts organisations.

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