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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 1683 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

I would strongly urge the Chief Minister, as it is now in her hands entirely, to consider that community role and to fund it appropriately. She is also the Minister for the arts and I believe has a responsibility to see that the arts are nurtured in Canberra, notwithstanding the difficult economic times we have, and to see that the work that the institute does both in the visual arts and in music is paid for. There is no doubt that the community has expressed a strong view on it. The community is passionate about the arts and it has made that very clear. It understands the role of the institute. It knows from its own experience how important, how vital, that role with them and broadly in this community is.

If the Minister does not - and I do not expect she will - announce what contracts she might come up with in respect of the institute, she might at least indicate a timeframe when - - -

Ms Carnell: It is up to them. Negotiations are going on. I cannot tell when they are going to finish.

MR WOOD: As soon as those negotiations are complete, could you rapidly make an announcement?

Ms Carnell: They are not going to get any more money this year, but we are talking about future years.

MR WOOD: It has had a big impact and they do need to know about future years. I think it is worth saying again that the institute was never asked until after the budget, until the budget bombshell, to provide information in a certain way. They had had earlier contact with Mr Humphries, and they believed that they were reporting in exactly the way that was required. It was only after the budget that new processes were demanded of them. I would not want it to be understood anywhere that somehow or other they were negligent in their duty. They were not. They do a fine job. They deserve support for the work they do in the community area, and I hope that they get that support in full measure.

MR HIRD (6.00): Mr Speaker, I take up where Mr Wood has just left off. I concur with Mr Wood. The Institute of the Arts does do a fine job.

Mr Berry: They are still leeches, Harold.

MR HIRD: They do a fine job. Not as bad as you, Mr Berry. If you wish to refer to yourself as a leech, that is up to you. There is no question about a community organisation such as the Institute of the Arts being a worthy organisation to receive money. If we did not account for the expenditure of taxpayers' moneys, this lot over here would be the first to criticise us. Under the Institute of the Arts, the $1.6m is about accountability. I heard Mr Wood stress earlier that the institute did not know that there was an obligation on them to come to the table and say where the $1.6m was being spent. They did. They have been asked for a number of years, so put that aside. The Institute of the Arts is a very valuable institute for the ACT, but we should not just back the truck in and give them hundreds of thousands of dollars, $1.6m, of taxpayers' money without showing some justification for where that money is going.

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