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

Speech at the 2016 Lysicrates Prize for Playwriting

5 February 2016

E & OE

FIFIELD:

Ladies and gentleman, can I acknowledge from the outset His Excellency General The Hon. David Hurley and Mrs Hurley. Could I also acknowledge my state counterparts through Mark Speakman and also Anthony Roberts. And wasn't it wonderful to see that great comedian Gerry Connolly playing Anthony Roberts tonight? Could I also acknowledge my Federal colleagues through Arthur Sinodinos and also Philip Ruddock.

As you know, Philip is the 'Father of the House'. Isn't it great to have someone with us who served with James Martin and also Henry Parkes. Philip, thanks for that historic connection. And also, if I could acknowledge my counterparts from the other side of the aisle, Mark Dreyfus and Jason Clare and their colleagues who are with us as well.

But most particularly Patricia and John Azarias. This is your vision. This is your dream which we're seeing realised. And I think I know, as Kim and Lee know, that when you get a request from Patricia and John, you shouldn't treat it as though they are asking for something. You should treat it as an order and just say 'yes', because it will save time.

Ladies and gentlemen, what a fabulous venture this is. In an age of digitalization, constantly new and emerging platforms through which we consume the arts, there is no substitute for seeing theatre live. The sweat, the determination, the danger, the edginess that is there. And can I say particularly, to the playwrights who are here tonight, thank you for being vulnerable. Thank you for opening yourselves up to us and our collective judgement. It's one of the great things about any live work is there's no safety net, you see it there. It's an incredible gift that we are given by those who write and those who act. So to the playwrights and to the actors, thank you so much for that.

It's also just so wonderful in a world where we're so frenetic, we're so busy, that we do have the opportunity from time to time, to sit and watch theatre. It is a time out. It gives us the opportunity to reflect on our own lives. And we saw that tonight. A fair bit about life, a fair bit about how to live a good life. A fair bit about death as well. It gives us the opportunity, just for a moment, to ponder, which we don't have often enough. So thank you to John and Patricia for giving us that opportunity and also John and Patricia, thank you for providing a very practical mechanism to support Australian work, to support Australian playwrights so that we can continue to hear Australian voices.

For those of us here who are politicians, which I think is about half the gathering, which of course is a testament to the great respect and admiration that we all have for John and Patricia and their contribution to the city, the state and the nation. But we're feeling very comfortable tonight, us politicians here, because we love a good ballot. Particularly a show and tell ballot, which this was tonight. For my Labor colleagues, they will feel very much at home. But there was no need for scrutineers tonight, we've trusted the process. And the decision we really had tonight was, do we want to hear a little bit more about what Theo's future would be? Was Gabriel going to pick up on Naomi? I was grabbed. And I wanted to know, is Gabriel going to pick up that phone. Or Nico and Naomi - what will be their future?

Ladies and gentleman, it is my great pleasure to announce that you have chosen Approximate Balance by Mary Rachel Brown.

Media contact:Justine Sywak | 0448 448 487 | justine.sywak@communications.gov.au

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