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Wednesday, 10 May 1972
Page: 2285

Mr STALEY (CHISHOLM, VICTORIA) - I address a question without notice to the Minister for the Environment. Is there any truth in the report appearing in the Melbourne 'Herald' of 8th May that Mr Fred Williams, an artist recently appointed to the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board, knows little about the Board's activities, has not been informed of his duties, and was instructed from Canberra to keep his mouth shut and not to stir up trouble?

Mr HOWSON (CASEY, VICTORIA) (Minister for Environment, Aborigines and the Arts) - I have read the article and I have also been in contact with the Chairman of the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board, Sir William Dargie, and Mr Fred Williams has been in touch with mc. Both gentlemen have said that there is no truth whatsoever in the statements attributed by the Melbourne 'Herald* to Mr Williams. I have checked with them and I have checked also with officers of my Department. There is absolutely no truth in this statement and both Mr Williams and Sir William Dargie find the remarks attributed to Mr Williams, quite spuriously, offensive to them. I would like to say also

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that I have always hoped that the members of the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board would give me and the public generally the best advice they possibly can on the whole of the Commonwealth's art programme. This has been a feature of the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board for many years, and this was one of the things that was known by Mr Williams when he agreed - from my point of view most gratefully - to come on the Board. He knew that he was coming on to do that.

The reason why there was some reticence on the part of Mr Williams in his remarks to the Melbourne 'Herald' was that he did not want his association with the Board to be a matter for suggestion that he was using his official status for personal advantage. I feel that what was a very altruistic move by Mr Williams has been badly interpreted by the Melbourne 'Herald' on this occasion. That a newspaper with such a high reputation for accuracy should have slipped so badly on this occasion is cause for great regret.

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