George Brandis Fails On Australia Council

The Abbott Government’s cuts to the Australia Council have been shown up by Senator Brandis as an ideologically-driven attack on the independent funding of arts.

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ARTS

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

 

GEORGE BRANDIS FAILS ON AUSTRALIA COUNCIL

 

The Abbott Government’s cuts to the Australia Council have been shown up by Senator Brandis as an ideologically-driven attack on the independent funding of arts.

 

Today, Senator Brandis was totally unable to provide a justification for his plan to rip out $105 million from the budget of the Australia Council to create a new fund under his control, known as the “National Program for Excellence in the Arts”.

 

When interviewed on ABC Radio National’s Books and Arts program he couldn’t explain how decisions on arts funding would be made.  He wouldn’t say what the funding guidelines would be. He couldn’t even define what he meant by “excellence”.

 

Instead, Brandis, the former competition lawyer, came up with the bizarre justification of “contestability” in arts funding.

 

But he could not explain the new process. He said this would give applicants a “second chance” but then said his department would not be a “court of appeal” from Australia Council decisions.

 

In reality, the creation of a parallel grants application process is just a recipe for more time-consuming red tape that will hurt small to medium sized arts companies.

 

This is just a clumsy attempt by Senator Brandis to dress up a nakedly political attack on the important principle of independent funding of the arts.

 

“Senator Brandis has abjectly failed to explain the purpose of his new fund,” said shadow arts minister Mark Dreyfus QC.

 

“He has tried to claim that he will not have a role in making funding decisions, yet the new fund will be administered by his department, which is under his control.”

 

“In reality, this is ransacking the Australia Council to take a chunk of its funding for the Liberal’s pet projects.”

 

WEDNESDAY, 19 MAY 2015