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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 12 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 3871..

Mr Berry: Mr Speaker, on a point of order: Does this question anticipate a matter which is on the notice paper? I refer you to the discussion of a matter of public importance.

MR SPEAKER: I have been looking at that. Mr Hird, I think, referred to an article in the Canberra Times yesterday.

Mr Hird: Yes, I did.

Mr Berry: It was in relation to a meeting on funding for the arts, Mr Speaker. I think it anticipates the debate on the notice paper.

MR SPEAKER: I am advised that the matter is on the daily program, not on the notice paper. Had it been on the notice paper, it might have done so. However, it is on the daily program.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, in the 1993-94 budget, the ACT Arts Council was allocated annual funding to be paid in two instalments. When the second instalment became due for payment, the ACT Arts Council was informed that their funding would not be forthcoming. Bear in mind who was the Minister at the time. At the time, the ACT Arts Council had a number of projects running and was in receipt of Australia Council funding on a dollar-for-dollar basis, dependent upon ACT funding. The ACT Arts Council was given no notice that it was being defunded. The then Minister, Bill Wood, declined to allow for any period of notice, despite repeated requests. Other community arts groups lost their funding in the same peremptory manner at the same time. I thought it would be timely to remind Mr Wood about these things, in conjunction with the matters he raised in the Canberra Times yesterday. As they say in equity, "You do not come to equity without clean hands". The ACT, I might point out, is now the only jurisdiction in Australia that does not have a functioning arts council.

I think that the Government's record in the areas of funding of the arts and consultation with the arts community compares very well with that of the previous Government. I have, as Minister, revived a practice which I used the first time the Liberals were in government, in 1989-91 - to have regular meetings with the arts community. My arts forums, three or four of which are held a year, are open to all members of the community who are involved or interested in the arts. That, Mr Speaker, with great respect, is the ultimate form of consultation. I open the doors at a public place; I advertise the existence of these meetings; I say that I will answer any questions people have to ask about it; and lots of issues are indeed raised. There is plenty of discussion and debate at those meetings, as members who have not come there would probably not know.

Quite apart from the strength of that community consultation process, which eclipses anything that the previous lot ever put in place, we will have a very significant injection of funding for the arts in this Territory over the next couple of years. The $3m extra for the arts over the term of this Assembly has been put into effect in a number of ways.

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