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ANAM must stay open for 2009: Interim solution 'completely inappropriate'

Peter Garrett must keep the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) open next year to ensure continuing appropriate training for Australia's top young classical musicians while any long-term solution is reached, the Australian Greens said today.

The Australian Institute of Musical Performance as proposed by Minister Garrett today is largely indistinguishable from ANAM's plans for next year, but deserves to be discussed over time instead of launched as policy on the run. Meanwhile, the interim measure, to send students to Melbourne University until the new Institute starts in July, is entirely inappropriate.

"Peter Garrett has treated these top young Australian musicians with absolute contempt," said Australian Greens Deputy Leader and Arts Spokesperson, Senator Christine Milne.

"The students at the National Academy of Music were looking forward to an extremely exciting year of tuition, chamber music and orchestral experience that had been organised for them by the Academy.

"The interim solution proposed by Minister Garrett ignores the bulk of what makes the experience of learning at the National Academy so valuable. Without any disrespect to the University of Melbourne, the programs it runs are not geared to the specialist elite training that the Academy's students enrolled for.

"You wouldn't dream of closing the Australian Institute of Sport and sending top young athletes to a university while a new, similar body under a different name was put in place. Why would you do that to musicians?"

The Greens are calling for the Australian National Academy of Music to be fully funded for its plans for 2009 and for any discussions as to its future to be conducted while the Academy is operational, involving staff and students in the planning process. It may be that, with appropriate examination, the Government's concerns over existing administration can be allayed.

"Why did the Academy need to be closed immediately?

"The unseemly haste with which Minister Garrett closed the Academy, without giving any reasonable explanation, raises too many questions. I have asked the Minister many of these in Questions on Notice filed last week.

"Minister Garrett appears to lack vital information on how the Academy operates, proudly noting, for instance, that the new Institute would conduct national auditions, which the Academy has always done.

"The appropriate path would be to take time to discuss the future of elite classical music training in Australia while the existing institution continues to provide its world class services."

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