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Wednesday, 27 November 1974
Page: 2831

Senator TOWNLEY (TASMANIA) - I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister: Is he aware that only about 14 per cent of the $2.2m spent on the purchase of art by the National Gallery between the accession of the Labor Government and 1 3 December 1973 went towards the purchase of Australian art? Does the Minister not feel that if we are to spend such huge amounts of money on art at the present time it should be kept in Australia?

Senator MURPHY - Art is universal and I think therefore that the answer to the honourable senator's question is no. If he had said that a substantial portion of total expenditure ought to be spent here I suppose no one would disagree with him. But it may be more important for our budding artists and our citizens that we bring into Australia the art which is not available so that it may be seen and may influence us than simply to acquire that art which is already in Australia and available in various galleries and privately.

Senator Wheeldon - Does he want Australian orchestras to play only Australian music?

Senator MURPHY - I think one may say that in Australia there has been a dearth of overseas art. Senator Wheeldon interjected by asking whether we really want Australian orchestras to play only Australian music and have an exclusionary policy against the great artists of the world coming here. I suppose if one looked at how much -

Senator Townley - You would not bring in American orchestras.

Senator MURPHY - Senator Townleysuggests that we would not bring in an American orchestra. We have done it recently very much to the advantage and the enjoyment of the Australian people and I think we will continue to do that. Many Australians will welcome the initiative of this Government in bringing some of the best of art from overseas to Australia, and the Government is not ashamed of it. The honourable senator ought not to be criticising a government which is spending money on art and acquiring very valuable assets, even if we look at it commercially, and that criticism comes very badly from an Opposition- not altogether from Senator Townley since it has been repeated by others- which preferred to spend its money by the thousands of millions on activities to injure people overseas who had done no harm to us.

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