Page 1782 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 4 May 2011

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Questions without notice

Chief Minister—comments

MR SESELJA: My question is to the Chief Minister. This morning, when answering a question about a young girl having a bad experience in the hospital and how this related to government spending priorities, you responded by saying that these questions were “tiresome and tawdry”. Chief Minister, will you apologise for this rude and insensitive comment to a Canberra family whose only crime was to disagree with you?

MR STANHOPE: My comment was not directed at the person that asked the question. My comment was directed, as everybody in attendance this morning knows very well, at the continuing tiresome debate in relation to the value of public art.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Seselja, a supplementary?

MR SESELJA: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Chief Minister, you have previously labelled those in the community who disagree with you on public art as “rednecks and philistines”. Do you stand by these comments?

MR STANHOPE: I stand by the comments I made, but that is not what I said.

MR HARGREAVES: A supplementary?

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Hargreaves.

MR HARGREAVES: Chief Minister, is it true that in fact public art is what we leave behind to express what is essentially the city? Is it true, therefore, that the measure of our society is measured by what we leave behind?

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Hargreaves. I do thank you for your question. I think it is important that at some stage the Liberal Party show preparedness to engage in a mature way in the debate about the arts and creativity in the creative sector. It is a pity, I have to say, that the debate has endured for a number of years now in relation to this government’s attempts to support the arts and artists. They have been, in a number of ways, most particularly in relation to public art and sculpture.

We support the arts, of course, in a variety of ways but one of the ways that we support the arts is through sculpture. That the Liberal Party have refused to engage in any attempt at conversation in relation to the intrinsic value of public art, sculpture or the arts is a matter of enormous regret, I think, for the broader community, as is the fact that the Liberal Party is so scornful of the arts and artists.

MR SMYTH: A supplementary, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Smyth.

MR SMYTH: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Chief Minister, if your comment was directed at all those who have objected or taken a point of difference with you on public art,

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