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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 1491 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

The budget cut to the Institute of the Arts was not totally surprising to me, considering the general philosophy of the Chief Minister and her Government. It was totally surprising to many in the music community, though. They did think they had the support of this Government, and the rhetoric would have led them to believe that - for example, the concert program of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra from Mrs Carnell, which waxes lyrical about the importance of music and the arts.

The cut to the Institute of the Arts funding is going to have a very significant impact on its ability to deliver its very valuable services. The community campaign, which has been so strong and well supported since the cuts were announced, shows that the Canberra community is indeed outraged, and so they should be. It is not only the cut itself that is so outrageous; it is as much the manner in which it was delivered. How can Mrs Carnell stand here and defend a process which would be laughable if it was not quite frightening?

I say it is frightening for two reasons. Firstly, it is irrational, and it is serious when governments are irrational. It is irrational to cut support by over $1m without consulting or giving notice to the organisations concerned, but when it is said afterwards that the cut was made because government did not know what they were buying with the money most of us would think the appropriate response was to find out first what has been purchased and then discuss cuts if it was thought appropriate.

Mrs Carnell sent us all a letter saying that in fact the institute had been asked two years ago to describe their services differently. No-one at the institute knows about that. It was certainly flagged that there would be changes in requirements later, but flagged only, not directly requested, not followed up, not, dare I suggest, supported in making this change. This is frightening, because it is either accusing the Institute of the Arts of lying, or in fact government itself is presenting an untrue picture of events. That is frightening as well.

It is very interesting to look at the report into implementation of service purchasing arrangements. This is a report released by government which was supposed to address a lot of concerns about service purchasing and how it would impact and how it would be implemented. I would like to read a couple of parts from the executive summary at the beginning of it. I think they are very relevant to how the Institute of the Arts has been treated in the way it was ordered to suddenly redescribe its services according to the output model that government said it required. In the implementation of service purchasing arrangements one point was made clearly:

In some programs, standards for quality are not yet defined and the Government and service providers have no benchmarks or process for evaluating effectiveness or confirming compliance with standards. The Government should embark on a process to consider and develop its approach to quality and accreditation.

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