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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (21 May) . . Page.. 499 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

about that, so somewhere there is a problem. We see that Paige Gordon is leaving Canberra. That is a normal thing in Canberra. We get good people, as any city does, and they move on. That will be a disappointment. I thought the Paige Gordon management group was doing a very good, constructive job. I hope that they can find someone to take that place. In the dance area we have had some excellent people here, and they do move on. There are always creative people to come through.

I have spoken in recent times about this Assembly, through one of its committees, looking at what we can further do for artists and performers in Canberra. I would like to see some group from here go out and talk to this fine body of people, this very knowledgeable body of people, and see how better we may refine what is happening for the arts in this city. I believe that in this Assembly, as in the city generally, we have great respect for the arts. We need to be attentive to that community and, as far as we can, we need to be responsive to that community.

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (3.48): Mr Speaker, this Government's commitment to the development of the arts in the ACT can be demonstrated through numerous examples. I have to say that I think the commitment of all parts of this Assembly is very definitely there. Throughout the 1990s ACT governments have provided significant support to the arts. As a result of this and the city's role as the national capital, we have an incredibly diverse, rich and extremely talented arts industry. I think the comments Mr Wood made about the book that I launched last week really show the huge depth that we have. I suppose any government must realise the potential that this industry has to play a major role in Canberra's future cultural and economic development. We see it as a very important part of the direction of the city and not as something that should be kept to the side.

Perhaps our commitment, though, was best demonstrated by our determination to ensure that moneys flowing from the casino premium were actually spent on facilities more than five years after they were first allocated. That was done by this Government, Mr Speaker, and we are very proud of that. We are also very pleased about the support that Mr Wood gave us in this pursuit. There were times when it was very difficult to get these facilities up and running and to get the sorts of agreement that we needed to have to get these great facilities open. That can be said, too, for the new multipurpose arts centre constructed at Tuggeranong. They really are great facilities.

When we look out the door here we can see that the fountain is going. That is something really special. Apart from that, this particular area of Canberra - our cultural precinct, as we call it - with the new Museum and Gallery and the new Playhouse, has enormous potential. All in all, the cost was quite substantial. All these facilities, including Tuggeranong, cost some $22m. It amounted to the single biggest investment in infrastructure for arts and heritage facilities since self-government, and we are very proud of that. On top of that, as Mr Wood said, there was an extra $3m invested in the arts over the life of the last Government, for cultural development, public art and the upgrade of the Canberra Theatre. I should also mention, Mr Speaker, that it was this Government which kicked in $2m to help the extension of the National Gallery. I am sure all members will agree that this has been a worthwhile investment for the future of the city. I think it greatly improves the National Gallery. I know that those people who are working at the gallery agree with that.

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