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Tony Abbott A Huge Risk For Australian Arts

Media Release
Christine Milne 25 Jun 2013

Senator George Brandis has given Australians a glimpse of how Tony Abbott would treat our talented and artistic communities if they form government, Australian Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne said.

"Like a deity, George Brandis wants the Australia Council to be reflected in his own image," Senator Milne said.

"He wants ministerial control over funding decisions, he does not want to recognise the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art to our national identity and does not want diversity of funding to support emerging, challenging and progressive art styles.

"Furthermore, Brandis wants the Australia Council's artistic decisions to be influenced by people like Campbell Newman who destroyed the $250,000 Premier's Literary Award before the ink was even dry after he was sworn in as Premier.

"Queensland is just the opening act for the major performance that Tony Abbott will put on for Australia's artistic audiences.

"While Abbott and Brandis look backwards to a bygone era, the Australian Greens secured important amendments to support our vision of a smart, creative country.

"We made sure artists influence funding decisions, that freedom of artistic expression is sacrosanct, that there is diversity in funding that matches the diversity in art styles and that community engagement in projects is encouraged.

"Importantly, the Greens made sure the centrality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture to our national artistic identity is honoured and upheld.

"Make no mistake, Tony Abbott and George Brandis want to tear down this recognition along with any united, forward-looking, artist controlled policies.

"We have already seen what happens when the Liberals have too much ministerial control over arts funding.

"Everyone will remember that under John Howard funding was refused to support the tour of Ross Horin's play Through the wire because it told the story about incarcerated refugees.

"They also made threatening phone calls to a Wagga Wagga Gallery to stop Michael Agzarin's exhibition No More Lies because it featured three ministers with their mouths sewn together in protest over the treatment of asylum seekers.

"The Liberals supported "funding" censorship then and it still does now. This is further proof you cannot trust Tony Abbott or George Brandis to support the arts.

"The Greens will stand strong in the Senate on behalf of Australian artists to protect these important reforms."

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