Page 4181 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 18 November 2015

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attended events at venues such as the Canberra Theatre Centre or the Canberra Museum and Gallery. In 2013 more than 412,000 people attended events hosted by ACT arts organisations supported by artsACT. The ACT has more than 3,000 higher education students studying creative arts.

As I had thought, Mr Smyth came in and read, as he does, from experts, including again David Throsby, who is well regarded and renowned, and I am not dismissing the contribution of Mr Throsby, because he is understood and recognised. But Mr Smyth continues time and time again to criticise my office, me personally and my officials as he did last time he brought on this debate in this place. I quote from Hansard, just to go to the disrespect that Mr Smyth has. The quote from Hansard is:

I suspect that if her office or her officials had spent a fraction of the time on arts policy that they spent on reading my very valuable reflections on the value of arts, then what a policy we would have here today. We would not be having this debate.

So vain is Mr Smyth that he feels that my office, the officials, need to spend more time listening to him than listening to the arts community here in the ACT. But what Mr Smyth, through you, Mr Assistant Speaker, cannot do, no matter what his quotes or his insults are, is deny that the Canberra Liberals’ position on the arts is either to ban it or indeed to censor it; not to value the arts as an underlying element of our economic prosperity and social wellbeing at all.

We have a fantastic arts policy, one which we have received high praise for. We on this side of the Assembly recognise the value of our arts ecology by making sure it is a thriving community. We know that those opposite have one view on arts, and that is to ban it. I go back to one other quote from the Canberra Liberals. Mr Hanson, as leader of the Canberra Liberals, has said, and I quote from Hansard:

We are very consistent. Ban all public art.

That is the Canberra Liberals’ view. They are very consistent. They have a view to ban all public art. What a vision for our city!

Unlike the Canberra Liberals, the ACT government recognises that arts and culture are an integral part of the lives of individuals as well as the whole social economic fabric of Canberra. Arts help to define our community’s identity and give expression to the community values. Creativity is fundamental to innovation and business growth. We are incredibly fortunate that the Canberra region has many diverse arts and arts organisations that provide inspiration and opportunity for residents within Canberra and beyond, and consultation has been undertaken to create the new arts policy and make sure that there is a lively and informed arts community.

Again I refer to the consultation that happened through this arts policy, set up and driven through an independent panel of our local artists. In many ways the policy that we have in place, that Mr Smyth is so critical and dismissive of, has been driven by over 300 voices of our arts community here in the ACT.

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