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Sidestepping accountability.

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Member for Kingsford Smith

Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Reconciliation and the Arts


1 November 2006

Sidestepping Accountability

Yesterday’s appearance in Senate Estimates by Minister Kemp demands an encore performance to adequately address questions surrounding government funding decisions and ministerial disclosure.

Today we are no clearer on the Minister’s decision to arbitrarily grant $500,000 for a training package to the Australia Business Arts Foundation (AbaF) after he refused to disclose the options provided to him.

And the Minister also failed to shed any light on a number of critical reviews including the funding model review for major performing arts companies and an evaluation of the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy.

The repeated failings of the Minister to properly answer questions and provide a full explanation of arbitrary funding decisions makes a mockery of the Senate Estimates process.

Given the scarce resources available to the sector, artists deserve better.

The attitude of Minister Kemp highlights broader concerns regarding the Howard Government’s dismantling of due parliamentary process.

In June the government announced its intention to reduce the capacity of Senate Committees to scrutinise legislation and hold the government to account.

The downsizing of the committee structure included a reduction in the number of committees as well as the appointment of government members to the position of chair.

This is the new world of accountability we live in under the Howard Government, where executive government is king and ministerial accountability the court jester.

The breathtaking arrogance displayed yesterday gives no comfort for future funding decisions and leaves artists and arts organisations out in the cold.

Contact: Andrew Palfreyman 0434 600 577