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Smoke and mirrors performance on the Arts from Howard.



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Smoke And Mirrors Performance On The Arts From Howard Duncan Kerr - Shadow Minister for the Arts

Media Statement - 21 June 2000

"The hypocrisy of the Prime Minister and his Arts Ministers is stunning," Shadow Arts Minister, Duncan Kerr, said today.

"The Prime Minister today launched a report which he said revealed positive responses by Australians on the general issues of recognition and value of the arts. Yet unless Mr Howard accepts the need to amend his own 'Ralph' legislation currently in the Parliament, his government will be responsible for driving many artists out of this industry.

"Even the Director of the National Gallery, one of the Government's hand-picked and most senior arts administrators, has added his voice to the chorus of warnings of the havoc and the GST will wreak on all forms of art and the creative industry.

"No wonder the Prime Minister's statement that he wanted to associate himself with the launch of the Saatchi Report to show his Government's "support" for the arts seemed a sick joke to the artists whose peaceful and creative protest outside symbolised their concern.

Commenting on the Saatchi and Saatchi Report Australians and the Arts: What do the arts mean to Australians?, commissioned by the Australia Council, Shadow Minister for the Arts, Duncan Kerr said:

"This is a Pollyanna government that does not seem to hear bad news.

"The Report will be valuable. It raises important structural issues.

"The Saatchi Report contains some encouraging responses to the general perceptions and importance of the arts to the community. Australians at all levels understand the value and importance of the arts to education, enjoyment, lifestyle and the fabric and spirit of our nation. But it also shows there are key problems that cannot be swept under the carpet.

"The announcement by the Prime Minister boasts of high percentages on a range of responses. But it neglects to include the alarming result that 51% of Australians have negative overall attitudes of personal perceptions of the value of the arts.

"More importantly, the Report identifies a range of serious problems including this list of the symptoms of some of the areas that have been savaged by the Howard Government:

the lack of an overall vision; ● the need for support; ● the disengagement and lack of identification with the arts from the general public, lack of pride and no future vision or direction; ●

84% believe that the arts should be 'more accessible and available to average Australians'; ●

76% said they would feel more positive if the arts provided 'more Australian performances, shows and writing'; ●

67% would feel more positive if the arts provided 'more multicultural events and activities'; and ● two thirds believe that 'more Australians should directly participate in the arts'. ●

"Mr Howard's life long vision for Australia is to introduce the GST.

"I congratulate the Australia Council and Saatchi and Saatchi on this important work. The issues it has canvassed and raised present a challenge for the Australia Council and the arts community as well as a wake-up call for a government that seems not to value or care about the arts," Mr Kerr said.

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.