Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 19 September 2018) . . Page.. 3777 ..
MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (12.08): I am very pleased today to have the opportunity to talk about the defunding of the ANU’s music H course. I thank Ms Lee for bringing forward her motion today. Of course, in spirit I have full support for what Ms Lee’s motion is aiming to achieve. I was very honoured to be asked a few weeks ago to sponsor a petition that is calling for reinstatement of funding for the course. However, the issues have become much murkier and I will talk about these in my speech.
I was at the protest outside the Assembly about a fortnight ago. It was clear from the energy of the crowd and the conversations just how passionate everyone is about this. I wish I could have stayed longer, but I had to go to a planning committee meeting. The fact that the protest had to occur is disappointing. The protest was great. The students protested through their music. I am sure that many people here heard it. It was a very bittersweet occasion. The kids are talented; the music teachers are passionate; the parents are really supportive; everyone is involved and everybody feels let down.
One of the issues, irrespective of whatever is going on, is that there has been very little public discussion as to the reasons for the decisions and who made them. Since Ms Lee’s motion was placed on the notice paper on Monday, basically my office has been working as hard as it can to find out what is behind the story. It is clearly a decision that would appear, from some points of view, to be very regrettable. We have been trying to find out why, who did this and what happened.
It has not been easy to find out. As well as talking to the students past and present, I have been talking to the ANU and to the government. While it is abundantly clear that the course is well loved, the rest is less clear. As my mother would have said, it is as clear as mud.
After all the consultation that I and my office have done, I think there may be some inaccuracies and misinformation in Ms Lee’s motion. For that reason, and also because I want to change the calls slightly, although I think possibly more in wording than in actuality, I move the amendment which has been circulated in my name:
Omit all words after “That this Assembly”, substitute:
“(1) notes that:
(a) the music H Course offers an advanced music program for year 11 and 12 students run by the Australian National University’s School of Music and funded by the ACT Government via the artsACT Community Outreach Program;
(b) discussions on the new Community Outreach Program between the ACT Government and the ANU School of Music commenced in 2016 and the funding changes were announced in February 2018;
(c) the Music for Colleges program will continue for 2018 and 2019 to enable year 11 and 12 students currently enrolled in this program to complete the course at the end of 2019, with no new enrolments after that time;