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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1997 Week 1 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 124..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

and the department would be wrong, and the Government would be wrong in backing it, if it did anything that would go against looking after the best interests of those students. That is our paramount concern, and that is why we were so keen, when a number of parents wanted to go to Dickson, to start that program. Quite clearly, that was in the interests of students. That is our paramount concern, Ms McRae.

Cultural Council

MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Arts and Heritage. Minister, some longstanding and valuable members of the Cultural Council have resigned. As their resignations are due to the Government's continuing disregard for the council, will you now review your approach, to restore the standing of the council and its members' confidence in you?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I am pleased Mr Wood asked me this question, so that I have a chance to comment on the matters that were in the Canberra Times today. I have received letters from Mr John Thompson and Ms Evol McLeod, indicating their desire to - - -

Mr Wood: Longstanding members.

MR HUMPHRIES: They are longstanding members, indeed. They indicated to me some concern about elements of the environment in which they operate, which gives them reason to believe that they should not continue on the council. I think it would be a mistake to characterise this as a straight disagreement with Government policy. There are undoubtedly some elements of Government policy with which they disagree. There are also some other things to which they refer in this correspondence that I think point to other factors.

I propose to table these two letters in a moment, but I will read briefly from the two pieces of correspondence. Mr Thompson summarises, I think, in the letter his concern about the position he found himself in on the Cultural Council. He says:

The intention of the Government to establish a new Canberra Cultural Authority and the proposed centralisation of grant funding have both led to a vigorous discussion about the role, purpose and relevance of Council. I welcome these discussions but believe that the process of redefining Council's role which has now been embarked upon by Council and artsACT should probably best rest with a new generation of Council members. It is important that these discussions take place and that they do so in a spirit of strong commitment and a common shared purpose by members around the table. During recent months I have sensed a "generational" split between longer serving members and more recent appointments. I believe that this new membership should be free to work constructively together to forge a clear role and identity for Council in an exciting period of change, uninhibited by any legacy of the past.

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