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$0.5 million arts loss due to Hawke government

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$0.5 MILLION ART*?' __

The $0.5 million suffered by Australian Arts Groups in the collapse of the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust is due directly to the Hawke Government and must be made good by the Government, Opposition Shadow Minister for the Arts, Senator Michael Baume said today.

Senator Baume said the Government had a moral duty to make good this loss that results from Friday's Federal Court decision that donations directed to Arts Groups that the Government forced through the Trust for tax purposes are to go

instead to the Trust's creditors.

"The Hawke Government's deliberate refusal over several years to accede to the Coalition's demands that Arts Groups should be able to receive tax deductible donations direct, instead of through the financially unstable Australian Elizabethan

Theatre Trust, was a disgrace.

"I know that successive Labor Arts Ministers agreed with the Opposition and with Arts organisations that the Government's requirement that the Trust be a conduit for donations should be removed, not only because of the risks involved but also because the Trust was charging a 2% commission for doing so.

"But the former Treasurer, Mr Keating, continually "rolled" these ineffectual Ministers in Cabinet.

"This disgrace has now become a scandal as the Government selectively and dishonestly protected its own Arts bodies like the Australia Council from such losses by removing them from the need to use the Trust just two days before the Trust collapsed.

"So when the Government realised the Elizabethan Theatre Trust was going broke, it looked after itself and left the rest of the Arts community to cop the full brunt of the loss.

"Arts Groups, many of them quite small, who are suffering these losses, are now struggling to survive in the present economic climate.

"Those suffering range from large organisations like the Ballet and Opera companies to small ones like the Barossa Music Festival and the Victorian Tapestry Workshop.

"The Hawke Government must act immediately to make good their losses instead of forcing them to pick up the huge bill that results from its own improper behaviour."



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