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Minister Alston should pay attention to the NGA.

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MEDIA STATEMENT MEDIA STATEMENT MEDIA STATEMENT MEDIA STATEMENT Hon Dr Carmen Lawrence MP Shadow Minister for Reconciliation, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Affairs; the Arts and Status of Women

Federal Member for Fremantle

Wednesday, 27 March 2002

Minister Alston Should Pay Attention to the NGA

Following yesterdays Comcare report into the National Gallery of Australia, Senator Alston, Minister for the Arts, and his assistant, Minister Kemp, should start paying closer attention to the management of their portfolio.

A report by Comcare into the incident released by Labor today concluded that the Gallery contravened the Commonwealth Occupational Health and Safety Act in sacking Mr Brian Cropp because “he had complained about a matter concerning the health, safety or welfare of employees at work, namely, the state of the NGA’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems”.

It has taken more than two years to reach this conclusion after Mr Cropp first raised the issue with Comcare on 28 February 2000, and since Labor first raised this issue in the Senate Estimates process in May 2000.

The NGA has continually denied there was a problem with the air conditioning system and with their responsiveness to complaints, however after nearly two years of questioning it appears this has been disproved.

Through the Senate Estimates process Labor discovered that the National Gallery had received reports since 1995 that the air conditioning system needed to be replaced and yet this work is only now being undertaken following continued questioning in the Senate.

The question is - what has the government been doing to ensure the highest possible standards and management of the Gallery?

This issue has been repeatedly brought to the Governments attention yet their response has been to sit on their hands denying any knowledge of this situation, nor showing any concern for the good management of the National Gallery.

The National Gallery is one of Australia’s most important cultural institutions and deserves full attention and commitment to ensuring best practice in all aspects of its operation and in the good treatment of its staff - no matter how trivial senior management and the Government may regard these issues.

Contact: Jo Fox Ph: (02) 6277 4181 or 0419 963 486