Page 3346 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 22 September 2015

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To see the influence that having good musicians in our community and having community involvement programs in our high schools, in our junior schools, one only needs to go to the Llewellyn Hall when they bring in the preschoolers and the kindie kids to see a room full of energy. That is all it can be described as—absolute energy.

I have some concerns. I know that members of the School of Arts are looking with some trepidation and a great deal of concern at what happens with the School of Music, and I am told that you now cannot complete a degree in the dramatic or the performing arts at the ANU. I do not know if that is true. That was what I was told. And that would be a shame if that was the case.

We need only to look at, through the lens of cultural economics, the Tourism Research Australia recent report that there is a trend that has emerged from 2012-13 where people are now coming to Australia to participate in contemporary Australian art and culture, to be part of festivals, to go to historic sites, to come and feel what it is to be Australian. At the heart of that is music, art, drama and performance. If you look at it through the eyes of economist David Throsby he says that first there is art, then there is artistic creativity, then there is creativity, then comes technology and innovation. And if we want to be a technology and innovation hub, to make that happen, we must foster the arts, particularly, I believe, given the expertise that we have and the reputation that we had in music.

Music is a great healer as well as a great inspirer. I have to say I am very sad and very concerned at what is happening at the School of Music, and I look forward to working with the incoming Vice-Chancellor of the ANU and hopefully with others to make the School of Music great again. (Time expired.)

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (4.21): I will of course be supporting Dr Bourke’s matter of public importance today, and I welcome him bringing to the Assembly’s attention this discussion about the importance of working closely with Canberra’s higher education sector. I think we are all very well versed in the importance of the higher education sector to the ACT’s economy, social diversity and vibrancy as a city. And of course, we know that we must collaborate closely with our local tertiary and vocational education providers and universities in particular to ensure that we all benefit from the relationships.

As we have seen in recent years, decisions taken by our universities have impacts on local Canberra matters, and things that happen on campus are of interest to many of us, regardless of our role in local government. I think of the public debates on the changes to the School of Music—and Mr Smyth has just touched on some of those—or the creation of new and affordable student accommodation in the heart of the city as examples where what happens on campus certainly spills into the life of the broader Canberra community.

But today I mostly mention the positive contribution to public life that Professor Stephen Parker has made since his appointment to the Vice-Chancellor’s role at the University of Canberra in 2007. It would be fair to say that his recent announcement that he would be leaving the role next July after nine years certainly caught me by surprise, and I think many in the community, and I wish him well in his next endeavours.

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