Page 2974 - Week 08 - Thursday, 25 June 2009

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significant risk had it been maintained or retained at the gallery. The government considered that context and had regard to the cost of maintaining the gallery, had regard to the visitation—the number of visitors averaging around 5,000, with two staff; 100 people a week. In the context of arts in the arts budget, I would ask members to reflect on this: two full-time members of staff, 100 visitors a week—what is that a day? Fourteen people a day; seven visitors per full-time member of staff—

Mr Hanson: We thought you were asleep up there—

MR STANHOPE: I was just testing, mind you. So just do the sums: one full-time member of staff, one full-time member of artsACT or of the Cultural Facilities Corporation dealing with seven people a day on average. Who thinks that is reasonable? Put up your hand if you think that is reasonable—not you, Mr Speaker—one full-time member of the Cultural Facilities Corporation dealing with seven people per day, year after year after year after year? The government, with the best will in the world, with the greatest of respect for Sir Sidney and Lady Mary Nolan—and I met Lady Mary and I discussed the government’s position, and she was not particularly happy with or enamoured of it, which is why the government has referred the issue to the commonwealth.

We have provided funding to upgrade the Canberra Museum and Gallery to house the collection. We stand ready to invest in the Canberra Museum and Gallery, in the heart of the city, to facilitate the showing of this very significant collection; but I cannot justify asking, and the government does not believe it reasonable to ask, the people of Canberra to support a gallery that would require two full-time staff when visitation year on year was averaging 5,000.The government has to take these things into account, these things into consideration.

To suggest that it is an appropriate and the best use of two full-time members of the Cultural Facilities Corporation to be dealing with 14 people a day really raises some serious questions, and we are trying to work our way through those. We are trying to do it fully respectful of Lady Mary and fully respectful of this very significant collection.

MR SPEAKER: Mrs Dunne, a supplementary question?

MRS DUNNE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, what are you going to say to the people of Australia when your decision to move the collection to CMAG precipitates the return to the UK of significant numbers of the works on loan to Australia?

Mr Corbell: Hypothetical.

MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, the question is hypothetical, and it is impossible for me to answer. If that did occur, of course, it would be a matter of enormous regret, but I assume the commonwealth, along with the ACT government—the commonwealth, in the context of its position on this, its negotiations—is taking these things into account just as the ACT government has.

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