Budget Silent On Crisis In The Arts

Last night’s budget has done nothing to reverse damage done to the arts by the Abbott-Turnbull government, and locks in harsh cuts to national cultural institutions.

 THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ARTS

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

 

BUDGET SILENT ON CRISIS IN THE ARTS

 

Last night’s budget has done nothing to reverse damage done to the arts by the Abbott-Turnbull government, and locks in harsh cuts to national cultural institutions.

 

The Abbott-Turnbull government’s record on the arts is marked by nothing but cuts and disinterest. There was not a single line item in yesterday’s budget on the arts, which shows just how poorly this government values the sector.

 

In the 2015 budget, $105 million was ripped away from the Australia Council, the country’s premier arts funding body. Some of that money was used to set up a ministerial slush fund, now called Catalyst, which has haphazardly doled out money in a way that undermines the principle of independent, arms-length arts funding in Australia.

 

Overall more than $300 million has been taken from the arts budget in the three years of the Abbott-Turnbull government, including Screen Australia.

 

Our national cultural institutions are already facing $36 million in cuts that will result in job losses and cuts in exhibitions and services, and this budget does nothing to help. The budget papers confirm nearly $5 million in cuts for the National Gallery and National Library in 2017 alone, and a projected 48 job cuts next year.

 

Australia is already losing Trove – a vital national information resource – because the National Library can no longer afford to add new content.

 

Throwing $12 million at a random group of arts projects from the minister’s personal slush fund, some of them in marginal Liberal seats, will not solve the problems in the arts sector caused by swingeing cuts.

 

It is shameful. Prime Minister Turnbull is no friend of the arts. Labor will return lost money to the Australia Council and rebuild the trust and confidence in the arts sector which has been trashed by the Abbott-Turnbull government.

 

WEDNESDAY, 4 MAY 2016