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Thursday, 10 November 1983
Page: 2601

Mr SAUNDERSON —On behalf of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, I present the sixth and ninth reports for 1983 of the Committee, together with the transcripts of evidence, relating to the proposed construction of a Telecom State Head Office Building, Adelaide, South Australia and the construction of accommodation for the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Kensington, New South Wales, respectively. I seek leave to make a short statement in relation to the ninth report relating to the National Institute of Dramatic Art.

Leave granted.

Mr SAUNDERSON —The National Institute of Dramatic Art has had with the Government for some time a proposal for new accommodation. The former Public Works Committee held a public hearing into this matter but was unable to report on that hearing prior to the dissolution of Parliament. The proposal was referred to the current committee on 6 October this year. On 14 October Senator Jones and I, on behalf of the Committee, inspected NIDA's facilities and the site for the proposed work. We were appalled at the conditions under which NIDA is required to operate and are entirely supportive of the proposal. Following the Committee's decisions we have arrived at this report which is being presented to the Parliament in time to allow the early construction of the building.

I wish to make a few comments in relation to the National Institute of Dramatic Art which, like so many organisations, has done such fine work in Australia and has gone virtually unrecognised for that performance other than by those who are directly associated with it. NIDA was established in 1958 and has been present at the University of New South Wales since then. It was Australia's first professional theatre school. Its aims are to encourage the knowledge and appreciation of drama, opera, music and all the arts of the theatre. It specifically provides practical training for the professions in live theatre, television, film and radio. It provides courses in acting, technical production, directing and design for theatre, film and television. It has played a major role in the re-emergence of film and television with Australian content.

To show the sorts of problems that NIDA has had I think it is important to look at its accommodation. It is currently residing in a number of World War II Army huts and is also using part of the old Kensington racecourse jockeys' change room, which was built quite some time ago, and the old Totalisator Theatre. NIDA , with its graduates, has had some dramatic results. Many of the now famous actors and actresses in Australia have been graduates of the theatre. Such well known people as Mel Gibson, Judy Davis, John Hargreaves and Robyn Nevin have been graduates of the theatre. One can only congratulate not only those who are currently on the board but also those who have served in the past. In particular I take the opportunity to congratulate the full time staff of NIDA for the marvellous success they have achieved under such awful conditions.