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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1997 Week 9 Hansard (4 September) . . Page.. 2961..

Detail Stage

Clause 1

Debate resumed from 18 June 1997.

MR WOOD (5.38): I am here to talk on clause 1 of the Bill, which is not going to be agreed to. The Canberra Cultural Authority Act is going to become the Cultural Facilities Corporation Act, when eventually passed by this Assembly. Some members may know that there has been a very considerable amount of discussion on this Bill. I am grateful to all those who have taken some part in that discussion.

When the Bill was first proposed, I indicated that I was not inclined to support it and that it should be rejected. However, today, when we get down to some of the amendments, it will have my support and the support of the Labor Party, although I must say that I am not wildly enthusiastic about it. There still needs to be a lot of work done before I will be convinced that this clause ought to be put in place, with all the things that go with it. Nevertheless, I am grateful for the advice I have had from the spokespeople for the arts in the community, who have attended diligently to this Bill, my colleagues in this Assembly on the crossbenches and the Minister, who has attended to the comments that have been made.

Earlier today, the Minister tabled a fairly large range of amendments to the Bill, which may well be dealt with as a whole. As is obvious, most of those are simply related to the change in name. It has had to be changed at many points throughout the Bill. Some of the other amendments are, in part, those sought by arts people through their spokesgroup in Canberra, Artsvoice. I will not speak for those people; but it is my thought that some of them are not entirely convinced about the Bill either. However, it has broad agreement.

I will raise now - because we may be dealing with the Bill as a whole - one of the amendments I was very keen about. It relates to the committees that will now be established. Formerly, it was open for some committees to be formed. They may be formed. But now it is a requirement that the corporation "shall" constitute advisory committees. That is a very considerable improvement on what we had before, when the word was only "may".

One of my major reasons for having reservations about the Bill was my concern that important decision-making was left in the hands of a group of very competent people but not necessarily people who had close knowledge of some of the matters that might come before them. Now that the Minister has assured us that there will be advisory committees, I am much more comfortable with the Bill. But there has been a change from an earlier draft amendment to say that the corporation "shall constitute advisory committees in relation to museum collections, historic places and the performing arts". "In relation to" does not mean, as I thought we were getting before - I knew this last night, too, and I have agreed to it - that there will necessarily be three committees, one on each of those matters.

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