May 18th, 2016 Legislative Council
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS ( 15:11 :44 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, representing the Minister for the Arts, questions about arts budget cuts.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I welcome the words in a ministerial statement today by Minister Jack Snelling, Minister for the Arts in South Australia, which take on board the horrific situation that the arts sector finds itself in in this country. In 2015, under the federal budget, the arts sector was left reeling by the announcement that over $100 million was to be redirected from the Australia Council for the Arts to create a new discretionary fund by the then Minister for the Arts, George Brandis, and his new so-called National Program for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA).
While some steps have been taken to redress that situation with the new Prime Minister and a new Minister for the Arts, Mitch Fifield, of course we saw last Friday dubbed Black Friday by the arts sector, with slashing and burning across this nation of our vibrant arts sector, to leave it on its knees.
In South Australia, the small and medium companies that will possibly no longer exist in the future because of these funding cuts, are Slingsby and Brink—both well renowned theatres, one for young people and also contemporary theatre organisations; the Australian Experimental Art Foundation; the Contemporary Arts Centre of South Australia; Vitalstatistix, based at Port Adelaide which has a proud feminist and working-class history; and Tutti Arts which, of course, specialises in disability arts. These are companies we may no longer hear spoken of in our community due to these horrific federal budget cuts.
I welcome the ministerial statement today saying that the minister has met with some of the major companies and that he will certainly be speaking to the majors about these cuts and the way that they will impact on the small to medium sector, but my questions are:
1. Will the minister commit to a crisis meeting with the small to medium sector of the arts?
2. Will the minister commit to a moratorium on all state budget cuts into the future until these outstanding organisations can secure their future?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change) ( 15:14 :26 ): I thank the honourable member for her most important questions directed to the Minister for the Arts in the other place, and I thank her for referring to his ministerial statement today, which was about federal Liberal government cuts to the arts sector.
As she said, the slashing and burning of the arts sector by the federal Liberal government is unprecedented, but I just have to wonder at the thought processes behind the Greens continually coming in here complaining about federal government cuts and then saying to the state government, 'But you must backfill these cuts.' It is unsustainable. It is absolutely unsustainable to come in here and say that the federal government has ripped $5 billion out of education and health and you, the state government, need to backfill that bucket of money that no longer exists. Now she is asking us to not make any other cuts, despite the fact that funding has been cut at the federal level. We have a federal election campaign on: why don't the Greens go out and attack the federal Liberal government instead of campaigning against Labor seats?
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:15): Supplementary.
The PRESIDENT: Order! The Hon. Ms Franks.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I would expect a state minister to understand that, given that the state arts minister has announced that there is probably $8.5 million of state cuts to come—he should be actually understanding that they are the cuts that I have asked for a moratorium on, and certainly we seek a moratorium on no state budget cuts.
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change) (15:16): The honourable member just shows again, through her ignorance, that she has absolutely no clue—no clue. Here we have the Greens and the Liberal Party at a federal level doing cosy deals to swap preferences to get a federal Liberal government re-elected—that is what the Greens party is doing—to get a federal Liberal government re-elected, swapping preferences interstate, and she has the hide to come in here and complain about that federal Liberal government cutting the arts sector.
Her party is doing dirty deals with the Liberals to get the Liberal Party re-elected at a federal level, and she has the hide to come in here and complain about the federal Liberal government. Take it up with your federal leadership, Hon. Tammy Franks.
The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Stephens.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: On a point of order, a member has had a supplementary for quite a while now.
The Hon. K.L. VINCENT (15:17): Maybe it will work if I do it. Will the minister please answer the question?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change) (15:17): When the Hon. Kelly Vincent has the opportunity to read the Hansard, she will see that I have.