Ministers for the Department of Communications and the Arts

Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

Minister for Communications

Minister for the Arts

Manager of Government Business in the Senate

Opening of Marilyn Rowe House

5 February 2016

E & OE


Thank you Leigh Johns and to your board members, each and every one of whom have put their heart and soul into this important national institution. Can I acknowledge His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove and Lady Cosgrove. Every significant national event is always enhanced by their presence. Could I also acknowledge Lady Southey and former Premier Ted Baillieu and Robyn Baillieu. Great to see you. Mr and Mrs Tanabe. Marilyn Rowe, past director, and what we are seeing here really is the fulfilment of the vision and foresight you had.

I know at an occasion like this you are not meant to have favourites, but I have one and I'm going to name her. And that is Betty Amsden. If ever I'm in need of a hug I know exactly who to go to. Thank you very much Betty. And also, can I acknowledge through Lisa Pavane the Director, and Sandra Ball, the General Manager, the staff of the school and also of this residence.

I know for the staff what you do is far far more than a job. It is your passion. It is your belief. It is your absolute commitment. And you know when you get up each day that you are making an important contribution to the lives of young Australians. So to the staff, thank you so much for what you do.

And most importantly of all, can I acknowledge the students and do that through Ally, Xavier and Anastasia who are the School Captains. Everything that we see around us here today and that we see at the school itself, is for you and for your colleagues. All of this around us only has meaning to the extent that it helps you be your best selves and helps you be all that you can be in your chosen profession and your chosen craft. So we are all here today for you.

And, ladies and gentlemen, I don't need to tell you just what a wonderful institution this is. It's one of the nation's seven elite performing arts training schools. We're incredibly fortunate to have such institutions in this nation.

We've heard I'm sure, over the last few years as the lobby for this facility has gone on, that the Australian Ballet School really is the last national ballet school in the world that didn't have a residential facility. And why is that important? I think we know that when you look at important national training institutions be it Duntroon, ADFA or the AIS, that when you have a residential facility it helps bred that collegiality that you want. It helps ensure that there is that duty of care which is hard to reproduce in another environment. It ensures that there is that intensity and that capacity to care which wouldn't otherwise be there. So this is an important final piece of the story of the Australian National Ballet School.

George Brandis has appropriately been mentioned, my predecessor who was very passionate about this project and is delighted that we've reached this point of opening.

And I know what a Federal Minister is meant to do right about now and that is to mention the dollar figure that the Commonwealth has committed. But it's something I'm always a little uncomfortable doing. Something that I seldom do. And something I'm not going to do today. Because it can mistakenly leave the impression that somehow, these are dollars which are the Government's that it has benevolently bestowed on a particular project. Obviously they aren't the Government's dollars. They are your dollars. You render them in taxation. I also don't want to mention a dollar figure that would take away from the overwhelming proportion of the budget of this project which has been raised by the community, which has been raised through generous individuals. Nothing should take away from that contribution and the fact that represents the bulk of the funding.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the achievement of passionate individuals who saw a need. Who set about meeting it. Who didn't see obstacles. Who only saw opportunity. And who wouldn't rest until it was achieved. So to everyone who has been part of this magnificent venture. Can I simply say to you – congratulations.

Media contact: Justine Sywak | 0448 448 487 |

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