Page 185 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 15 February 2006

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repeatedly that it is practices such as these that force good employers into compromising positions. They themselves are forced to compete on unsafe practices.

Arts awards

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (6.22): Earlier today the Minister for Planning, Mr Corbell, made a derisive remark about my participation in and support for the Australian Writers Guild Awards, which I was very proud to attend towards the end of last year and on which I filed a report that was approved. It is tragic that for something as important as that and where we had a national candidate for recognition, our own arts minister was too busy to bother going. Instead of belittling the event, the government ought to be saying to themselves, “Let’s do a bit more for the arts.” On that occasion, with the support of the awards committee managing it, I was seated with the Canberra nominee, one Dr Peter Copeman. He was there with his daughter and he was one of the proudest people you would ever meet when he in fact won the award for best community and youth theatre for his play, Backburning.

Dr Copeman, despite the derision that Mr Corbell has about this event, was in fact able to travel to Melbourne thanks to a generous grant from the ACT government. I have no issue with that; I have always said that cultural activities in this city cannot be subjected to the same economic constraints as are appropriate in other areas of activity, because I think they are a measure of the civilised standard of our society, and I will always be an enthusiastic supporter of funds towards the arts.

But it does raise an issue that I have had raised repeatedly with me over the 15 months or so I have been in the Assembly, and that is the lack of presence by one who calls himself the arts minister at a host of different events in Canberra. I see the Leader of the Opposition at many of these events. I try and attend as many as possible. In fairness, I see Ms Porter at many of these events, and frequently Dr Foskey. But the phantom is the minister for arts, Mr Stanhope. I hear from organisation after organisation their absolute frustration at his non-participation in this important aspect of our city. I have looked through event after event and attended event after event and I have failed to see his presence there. I think it is unfair to the arts community for the Chief Minister to assume that role and simply not attend to it. He relies on the public sector officials to handle the portfolio. He should be taking an active interest or he ought to hand over the portfolio to one of his ministerial colleagues who is willing to give them the fair hearing that they deserve.

The opposition spokesman for the arts was willing to make the effort and go down to this event, and it was attended, I might say, by people such as Bob Sercombe who, until he gets possibly knocked off his perch, is still the federal Labor shadow minister, and by leaders of the Australian Democrats, so all the major parties were represented. But about our participating in this important event the derisive comment of the minister was “that is rubbish”—belittlement.

I have said repeatedly that Canberra ought to be trying to attract areas such as the motion picture industry. There were major players at this function. There were people involved in the motion picture industry. I talked to them. I engaged in discussion. They are the subject of a report that I have written. I encouraged these people to come to Canberra. We have a magnificent climate here for the film industry. We are close to Sydney, where

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