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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2441 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General and Minister for Arts and Heritage) (9.22): On the point Mr Moore has raised, I have no doubt at all that there was probably some inadequacy in the public works submission on the roof of the theatre. I recall that it was a matter that came to the attention of Cabinet very late in the process of looking at the 1995-96 budget.

Mr Berry: You had plenty of time.

MR HUMPHRIES: It was not brought to our attention until quite late. Unfortunately, we do not make a habit of roaming around the Territory inspecting for ourselves the state of particular public buildings that belong to the Territory. So when it came to our attention that there was a deficiency with the roof of the theatre, we fixed it up. That was done, I think, within a very short timeframe between discovery and appearance in the capital works program, which may explain why it was not well documented. We will have to assess whether that work is appropriately done in that way. I have no doubt that the work needs to be done, but whether it costs a little more or a bit less than half a million dollars, I suppose, remains to be seen. If it costs a little less, then we will find other uses for that money within the arts program. It will not go back into Consolidated Revenue, let me assure the Assembly of that.

I will compromise with Ms McRae about public art. I certainly think the furnishings in the centre of this chamber could be counted in the category of public art, and they are fine pieces, I have to concede. But I think it is a mistake to categorise things for which space is saved on a wall as public art. There is an understandable fear amongst artists that public art, in terms of the construction of particular buildings, will be a matter of "Yes, your space is reserved there, and in subsequent budgets, when we have the money, we will buy it and we will put the piece of art up on that wall". When Ms McRae said that there was a space on a wall, say, for Klaus Moje's work, that was a matter of some concern. Public art is part of the fabric of the building, not a place where it goes afterwards, and I think that is important. I concede that there is some public art in this building, but I still maintain that there was no consistent program for it over the life of the previous Government and now there is such a program.

MR WHITECROSS (9.25): Mr Humphries has been as gracious as he possibly can be. I admit that it is 9.25 pm, but even at 9.25 pm Mr Humphries cannot be terribly gracious. Ms McRae was not talking about a space on the wall for which we hoped one day we would be able to find some money to purchase an artwork. What she referred to, and I know the details of this quite intimately, was an amount of money from the capital works budget that was earmarked for a public artwork and that the architect decided, as part of the fabric of the building, would be integrated into that wall. A process was gone through to commission that work, as part of the capital works budget. The money is still in the capital works budget waiting to be spent, and it is a matter the Speaker has carriage of as a client of the Department of Urban Services in this respect. When the commission is completed, it will be integrated into the building at the place designated by the architect, in accordance with the decisions made about the refurbishment of the building.

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