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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (22 November) . . Page.. 3734..


MR BARR (continuing):

private sector. So this is not a change in practice. In fact, a representative from the ACT government, as a significant employer in the territory, has been on this council for some time. So there is no change in policy here, Mr Mulcahy; it is simply a continuation of a previous arrangement and, of course, there is more than one employer representative on the council.

MR SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Mr Mulcahy?

MR MULCAHY: Yes, thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, did you consult any employer or industry organisations about this appointment, and what were their responses?

MR BARR: Yes, there was broad consultation around the appointment of the council—in fact with all of the stakeholder groups—and there are representatives, I understand, from the chamber of commerce and a number of other employer organisations on the council. It is a broadly representative body that contains representatives of both employers and employees. It has operated very effectively over a number of years and continues to operate very effectively, providing sound advice to government. I look forward to working with the new council. We have a couple of major areas that we need to consider in relation to the new OH&S act and of course the review of workers compensation in the territory. This council is getting on with the important business of government and we look forward to working with it.

Arts—funding

MR PRATT: My question is to the Treasurer. The second appropriation bill shows an increase of $114,000 for the per cent for arts scheme, the majority of it coming as a capital injection. This is on top of $2.3 million committed in the 2007-08 budget. In dismissing tax relief for the people of Canberra, you compared the $17 million cost of scrapping the utilities tax to treating 3,500 patients in the ACT health system. Using your own formula, why has your government made the decision to sacrifice the treatment of 497 patients to enable the construction of artwork?

MR STANHOPE: The point that needs to be made is that I am not proposing to abolish the utilities tax and I am not proposing, as the shadow minister for the arts is, to defund the arts. It has to be said that the shadow minister for the arts, Mr Mulcahy, must be the only shadow minister for arts in the world who constantly advocates for less money for the arts.

It is an absolutely remarkable position: the shadow minister for the arts in the ACT actively campaigns against arts funding. It is a unique position, even in the context of the election which will come to a conclusion, mercifully, on Saturday. I cannot recall, in the thousands of hours of television advertising, a single member of the opposition, in their area of particular policy responsibility, campaigning by saying, "If you elect me, I will spend less money on the environment,"or "If you elect me, I will spend less money on the arts,"or "If you elect me, I will spend less money on health."In the ACT, the philistine is afoot and is campaigning relentlessly for less money for the arts. Of course, the arts do suffer in politics from a want of advocates and champions.

Mr Pratt: How many mausoleums do we need?


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