When former Arts Minister, Senator George Brandis, unleashed his ill-thought raid on the independent Australia Council in May, taking $105 million from its budget to give to his own Ministry — where he and his appointees alone could decide which arts organisations were worthy of receiving tax-payer funds — the Greens and the ALP initiated a Senate inquiry.
Their inquiry into Brandis’ “National Program for Excellence in the Arts” drew an extraordinary and united response from artists and organisations across the country. They opposed the ludicrous plan that would severely damage — and possibly kill off — scores of small arts companies. These organisations act as the engine room and nurturers of talent for the big theatre, opera, ballet companies and orchestras that Brandis favoured by exempting them from the cuts.
“The Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Issues inquiry into the impact of the 2014 and 2015 budget decisions on the arts” released its report on Wednesday night. It found that the $105 million taken from Australia Council would jeopardise the viability of many individual artists and small to medium arts organisations and it recommended the government fully restore the funding to the Australia Council.
The following 20 statements from the Government’s dissenting response to the inquiry are breathtaking in their cynicism and attempt to re-write recent events to serve their own political purposes. If there was ever any doubt that Brandis’ NPEA was about politics first, and arts a distant second, then these statements prove it.
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