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Australian National Eisteddfod Society - Funding

MR WOOD (5.36): I want to respond briefly to some comments Mr Humphries made in question time in response to a dorothy dixer about the reduced funding to the Eisteddfod Society being phased out. That society complained that their funds were going. They did have some time to adjust; it was not in one move. As Mr Humphries said, I accepted the recommendations of the Cultural Council. It is a fact of life, and Mr Humphries knows this quite well, that if people lose funding they complain. There is never the counterbalance of those groups that get the funding getting out there and giving some support and thanks.

Mr Humphries had the right to intervene, although I must say that I was surprised that he did. It seemed to me that the decision was quite inconsistent with his views and, certainly, with Liberal Party approaches. In his answer he did seem to concede the benefits that flowed from that decision, the events that happened as a result of that staged withdrawal of funds. What happened, simply, was that the eisteddfod committee got off its butt, got out there, generated some activity, did some good work, and put on some performances. That has always been a good group - I am not critical of them - but they sat back in complacency, like other groups, over many years and happily waited for money to come in. The intention of the decision of the Cultural Council, which I endorsed, was to get them to use the resources they had, the access to a great number of very great artists, get them to do something, and that is what happened.

I was surprised that a Liberal Minister who talks about initiative and enterprise and do-it-yourself would change that decision. What happened was exactly what it was anticipated would happen. I thought Mr Humphries, in his change, was perpetuating the culture that groups can survive on handouts, and “handouts” was the word he used. It is a strange approach from the Liberals. That was not the view I adopted. The view I adopted, on the advice of the Cultural Council, in consultation and discussion with the Cultural Council, was that no group had the right of long-term continued automatic funding. The view I adopted was that we had high expectations from all groups and we required that they get out there and be energetic and show what they could do. The Eisteddfod Society is a good body and it is one we did treasure, even though we were cutting its funding. I think the decision we put into place showed how good they could be, and I hope that they do not retreat into a level of complacency as a result of what has happened more recently.

Business Confidence

MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister) (5.39): During debate today on the Workers’ Compensation (Amendment) Bill presented by Mr Berry during private members business, there were claims made about the state of the ACT economy and business confidence in Canberra. Specifically, Mr Berry suggested that business confidence was down and that this was reflected in the falling job advertisements and an unemployment trend in the ACT that runs against the national trend. I know that Mr Berry, who is referred to by some around town as Mr Business - certainly on this side of the house he is - like all members of the Assembly, values accuracy in our debates; so I would like to draw to the Assembly's attention some of the latest data in these areas.

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