Brandis Paints Chaotic Picture Of Arts Policy

The Abbott Government’s politically-motivated decision to strip over $100 million from the independent Australia Council has been revealed at a chaotic Senate Estimates hearing as policy making on the run which will hurt small and medium sized arts organisations and emerging artists.

 

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ARTS

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

 

 

BRANDIS PAINTS A CHAOTIC PICTURE OF ARTS POLICY

 

The Abbott Government’s politically-motivated decision to strip over $100 million from the independent Australia Council has been revealed at a chaotic Senate Estimates hearing as policy making on the run which will hurt small and medium sized arts organisations and emerging artists.

 

At a Senate estimates hearing yesterday, Arts Minister George Brandis was unable to provide further details of how his new arts slush fund would work and repeatedly contradicted himself.

 

Guidelines for funding decisions have not yet been finalised and he was unable to properly explain why his new fund was needed. The Minister treated legitimate questions about the reasons for cuts to the Australia Council with contempt and conceded that he consulted with no-one in the arts community prior to the announcement.

 

Senator Brandis’ evidence made clear that he sees himself as the ultimate arbiter of artistic taste, telling the hearing “The minister, being the responsible officer in charge of taxpayers' money, has to be the voice for audiences.”

 

He also stated he had no concerns about the way the Australia Council conducted itself but then indicated he was unhappy with individual decisions by it.

 

BRANDIS: “Those of us who read Tim Blair in the Daily Telegraph or watch Andrew Bolt's marvellous program on Channel 10 have noticed some of the teasing remarks they have made in recent days about certain decisions.”

  

The hearing also revealed the true extent of the cut in funding to the Australia Council. Once the quarantined funds for the major performing arts groups and other programs is taken out, the Australia Council is left with $62m for grants, operating costs, and all its other activities. This is a cut of 27 per cent, not 12 per cent as the Government has previously claimed. This is a cut which will fall mainly on the small to medium sized arts organisations and emerging artists.

 

Not only individuals, but the arts in our nation will be poorer for Senator Brandis’ arrogant interference in our system for arts funding.

 

THURSDAY, 28 MAY 2015