Liberals' Arts Policy Nowhere To Be Found

Two days to go until the federal election, and the Liberals have not released an arts policy. That’s right – the Abbott-Turnbull Government places such low value on the arts that it has not said a single thing about it for a whole 53 days.

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP
SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL
SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ARTS
MEMBER FOR ISAACS

LIBERALS’ ARTS POLICY NOWHERE TO BE FOUND

Two days to go until the federal election, and the Liberals have not released an arts policy. That’s right – the Abbott-Turnbull Government places such low value on the arts that it has not said a single thing about it for a whole 53 days.

The same thing happened last election, when Tony Abbott and George Brandis came to office with no arts policy at all. However, in the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s first disastrous Budget in 2014 it became apparent that they did have an arts policy after all, and that was to rip hundreds of millions of dollars from arts organisations and arts programs across our nation, and to undermine the independence of arts funding.

It seems the Liberals have learned nothing. When Minister for the Arts Mitch Fifield was almost laughed off the stage for showing up to this election’s arts policy debate with no arts policy at all, we expected that he would go away and come up with something to say by July 2.

Sadly, but in keeping with this government’s practice, that has not been the case. So all the Abbott-Turnbull Government leaves the arts community with is a legacy of awful cuts, the destruction of independent funding processes and the empty performance of two Arts ministers.

On this government’s watch arts programs have been slashed and dozens of arts organisations shut down. The Liberals have cut some $300 million from the arts, including $105 million from the Australia Council, and set up a ministerial slush fund, Catalyst, to support their pet projects. As a result, 62 organisations were defunded by the Australia Council.

And to add insult to injury, Mr Turnbull doesn’t seem to have informed himself of how the slush fund actually works, contradicting Senator Fifield’s own department when he said Catalyst funding had “almost entirely” gone to regional areas, and then declaring the Australia Council had more funding under the Liberals than under Labor. Both were entirely false statements.

Labor is proud to have set out a comprehensive arts policy early in the campaign, to build a more creative Australia.

Labor will:

1. Restore the standing of the Australia Council for the Arts.

2. Grow regional arts.

3. Strengthen live music.

4. Boost music in schools.

5. Invest in screen drama.

6. Carefully consult on copyright.

7. Support community radio.

A vote for Labor on July 2 is a vote for the arts and Australian artists.

THURSDAY, 30 JUNE 2016