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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 1398 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

Mr Humphries, I will concede that there can be some variety in accounting, but it is for the Chief Minister to stand in this place and claim that a 15 per cent figure on one line of a report, one set of accounts, damns the Institute of the Arts. In that case, all the institutes that are your direct responsibility, all the other establishments and enterprises that are your responsibility, stand even more damned.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (5.22): I rise to oppose the motion and to indicate that I think it is important for the Government to put on the record very clearly what it is trying to achieve with the approach that it has taken until now. I must say that I do not think there was as much difference between what Mr Hargreaves had to say in this debate and what I would maintain is the Government's position. Mr Hargreaves conceded that there needed to be some accounting for the benefits that the Institute of the Arts delivers to the ACT. I would certainly concede that that is the case, obviously, and that we need to go through the exercise of working out what those benefits are. That, of course, is what the Government is presently trying to do. We are presently in the process of discussing with the Institute of the Arts what benefits they provide and how much those benefits are worth.

That in itself raises an exercise which I must admit has been very difficult. In a sense we are asking people involved in the delivery of arts products to quantify the value of what they do. To some, the idea of listening to the music of Bach or Beethoven and working out what it is worth, in a sense, or viewing original works of art and trying to work out what the value of the creativity process is, is not just repugnant; it is offensive. I would concede that that is certainly a valid point of view, but I have to say, almost apologetically, that it is the role of the ACT Government, particularly at this juncture of our history, to account for those sorts of expenditures in respect of the Institute of the Arts and every other organisation in an extremely thorough way. I do not make any apology for saying that this community needs to know that the commitment we make to the Institute of the Arts is an investment which is best made in that way and for that amount of money.

Nothing which has occurred in this 1998-99 budget prevents a process of deliberation and debate with the institute to work out what its ongoing value to the ACT community is and for us paying for that value in full. Nothing precludes that. I say to the Assembly that this Government is going to continue to engage in that debate with the institute to achieve those sorts of mutual goals. We do have to acknowledge that until now we have not fully and properly quantified that benefit to the ACT. Whether that is the fault of the ACT Government or of the Institute of the Arts is a matter that I do not intend to engage in at the moment, but I will say - - -

Mr Wood: Did you ever tell them that?

MR HUMPHRIES: Yes, I did. I believe that I did. The important thing is that we now work out what that benefit is.

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