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Labor ignores women's achievements in the arts



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iator Chris Pup 1 ick TEL No. 02 221 5951 11,03,88 12:42 P.02

PARLIAMENT OF AUSTRALIA THE SENATE

SENATOR CHRISTOPHER PUPLICK

SHADOW MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT, ARTS AND THE BICENTENARY

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS STATEMENT A3/88 11.3.88

LABOR IGNORES WOMEN'S ACHI IN THE ARTS

Labor's so-called "National Agenda for Women" is just . another sloppy, tokenistic and insulting statement which devalues the contribution which women have made to Australian society without the paraphernalia of the Office

of the Statue of Women and other bureaucratic establishments.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the most recent report

from this Labor Party front organization "A Say, A Choice, A Fair Go". Apart from the fact that the accompanying pamphlet contains a factual error about the right of Australian women to vote (it was available to many

Australian women before 1902), the enormous contribution made by women to the arts in Australia is totally ignored.

Without Government directed and sponsored programmes, women in Australia have often been the driving force in the development of our artistic life both as artists,

performers and administrators of the arts.

In the performing arts, names such as Nellie Melba, Joan Hammond, Gladys Moncreiff, Joan Carden and Joan Sutherland have been household names here and overseas. Popular music performers such as Helen Reddy and Olivia Newton-John come

readily to mind.

Our dancers, Lucette Aldous, Kathy Gorham, Marilyn Rowe Maver, Janet Vernon and Peggy van Pragh are world class.

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I CL. INU . e n a t o r C h r i s P u p l 1CK

Actresses such as Wendy Hughes, Ruth Cracknel1, Noni Haselhurst and a host of television stars have achieved

international recognition.

Judith Wright and Hath Walker, Miles Franklin and Henry

Handel Richardson have been adornments to our literary

culture and their works have been of international

significance.

In music, Margaret Sutherland is a significant composer.

Visual artists and print makers such as Judy Casab and Margaret Preston; jewellry designers such as Susan Cohn, sculptors such as Fiona Murphy and others are rightly seen as leaders in their fields.

The contribution of fashion designers, not only to art but to our international image and export earnings centre very much around the examples of Carla Zampatti and Jill

Fitzsimmon.

Indeed one could go on at far greater length. However all this only serves to illustrate the point of the absolute failure of the Hawke Government to be prepared to talk about the achievements of Australian women. The Hawke

Government is only satisfied when it can bleat about non­ achievements, as it sees them. It is only happy when being miserable.

This attitude is particularly persuasive in its approach to

the arts. Who would ever believe that Bob Hawke; John

Brown; Graham Richardson or Gary Punch ever noticed, let alone cared about the artistic achievements of Australian women. To ask for either recognition or praise from them

would certainly be asking too much.

The latest part of the so-called National Agenda is exposed as a sham. There is no mention of the arts or the roles of

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women in the arte, despite the fact that Australia Council

figures show that 38% of full time arts practitioners are women. The same reports indicate that there are particular

problems facing women involved in full time arts activities, problems which the so-called National Agenda

ignores completely.

The arts are a significant career for many thousands of

women, but while some education and employment figures are pruduued in Lilt* Να Li vim 1 Agenda dvvuiueuL, Llilo olgiilfivanL

area is ignored.

It is typical of the Hawke-socialist approach to the role of women in Australian society that it both downgrades and ignores not only the value of the traditional role of homemaker/mothers in our society but equally ignores an

area of national life where the role and contributions of women has been absolutely outstanding.

Ends

For further information* Senator Puplick (02) 239-3003

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