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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 22 November 2007) . . Page.. 3735 ..

MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Pratt!

MR STANHOPE: There are not many champions in politics or the arts. Just as we discover in relation to the backflip by the Liberal Party in this place, for instance, on the construction of a prison for the ACT, there are no champions for prisoners or for corrections reform. These are not political bestsellers; they are not designed that way.

There is a whole range of issues. It is one of the sad aspects of politics: politicians run a mile from those issues of real significance to the wellbeing of a community, for a well-constructed community, so as not to be associated with them. You can name them. You see them today in this amazing revelation of the Jackie Kelly Liberal Party lies in relation to—

Mr Mulcahy: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: this is not at all relevant to the question.

Mr Hargreaves interjecting

Mr Mulcahy: Mr Hargreaves, pull your head in for a minute. This is not relevant to the question. I ask that you call him to order.

MR SPEAKER: Come back to the subject matter of the question.

MR STANHOPE: We as a government are prepared to stand by and for the arts. It is an area of legitimate government expenditure. There is a broad constituency. And over and above the broad constituency that have an expectation that a government will nurture the cultural health, welfare and wellbeing of a community, there is an obligation, I believe, on any government to stand up for the arts, to seek to support cultural expression and cultural life, because of its inherent importance.

I believe strongly in the importance and power of the arts as a factor within society; as a reflection of the strength, health and wellbeing of society. It is always the way that, if you think there is an economic issue, you can address it by picking off the soft points. People do not rush out to defend the arts, just as they do not rush out to defend prisoners, prison welfare or corrections. They do not rush out, in John Howard’s Australia, to defend Muslims, refugees, migrants, Indigenous people or single mothers. There are a whole range of individuals, issues and policy positions that most politicians, those without moral fibre, and those without the capacity to lead—

Mr Pratt: Don’t you know Mal Brough?

MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Pratt. That is the last time.

MR STANHOPE: There are genuine philistines—those that would, for the sake of a cheap political point, stand up, as a shadow minister for the arts and advocate, “If we come to government, we will cut funding for the arts; we won’t have any of this nonsense, hocus pocus public art that is a reflection of the spirit of the city and of who we are,” but which is a fantastic thing to do. We could devote all of our budget to

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