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2016 Australia Council Awards

E & OE

FIFIELD:

Could I thank Uncle Allen Madden for his warm welcome to us all and pay my respects to the traditional owners of the land on which we stand and think about and pause for a moment about those who have walked this ground before us and those who will walk on this ground after us. 

Could I pay a very special tribute to the Chair of the Australia Council, Rupert Myer. Rupert, your leadership of the Australia Council is inspiring. You're calm, as you execute your duties, but you have endless passion. So thank you so much for all that you do. Also, the Deputy Chair of the Australia Council, Robyn Archer, whose commitments to the arts is unceasing. And it's one of the joys of my role as Arts Minister. There's nowhere that I go that I don't see Robyn. Whether it be the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Seymour Centre. The opening of a new wing of NIDA or a weekend or two back, Robyn in the audience of the opening of a new small gallery. So Robyn, thank you so much for all that you do.

Can I also acknowledge the other members of Council, who are with us. And through the Chief Executive, Tony Grybowski, can I acknowledge the staff of the Australia Council. I know for you, as for so many people who work in our great cultural institutions, what you do is far more than a job. It's something you're drawn to. And to everyone here who is an artist. It's your passion. Your love. Your life. It's something that's more than a calling. You are compelled. You are drawn to do what you do. Thank you.

On the way here tonight I passed the Capitol Theatre, where they were filming a television show, whose name is a bit of a misnomer. It's called Australia's Got Talent. I couldn't help but think how different two occasions are. That, at the Capitol Theatre and that, here at Carriageworks. And I can't help but think the name that they've chosen, 'talent', I think we might have a lock on that here tonight.

But we are here to celebrate eight very distinguished, very special Australians. David, Brett, Richard, Kelli, Lucy, Yaron, Lilley and Nathan. Whose work spans literature, music, the visual arts, emerging and experimental arts, dance and theatre, and also community arts and cultural development. 

Tonight is a very significant event in the life of the nation. These are the highest awards that the Australia Council has to offer. They acknowledge people who have done some incredible things. People who provoke us, inspire us, challenge us, entertain us, cause us to reflect and cause us to feel. And it's appropriate that we do pause from time to time to acknowledge those people who have the capacity to do that. Those people who remind us through their work of who we are. Who help us to reconnect with our soul. Who help us feel things that sometimes we've forgotten. Who allow us to see things afresh. And who help us to hear things for the first time.

My presence here tonight with my counterpart from across the aisle, Mark Dreyfus, is to make a statement on behalf of the Government, but also on behalf of the Parliament as a whole, that we value incredibly what it is that you do. And I can't help but think as I look at the award recipients here tonight and I've had the opportunity to have a chat to each recipient, I think, apart from Richard, and what I wonder is, what are the influences that have helped shape you as artists? Who are the individuals that have been significant in your life? We can but wonder at the collection of individuals who have helped form you and helped shape the talent and ability that you have. I also wonder about the lives that you have affected, the number of people that you've affected. But also I wonder about the people that you have mentored, the people that you have inspired to follow in your footsteps. 

My role here simply tonight is to say thank you for all that you've done, all that you've helped us to feel, all that you will help us to feel in the future. Thank you and we look forward to hear what you have to say tonight. Thank you very much.

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Media contact: Justine Sywak | 0448 448 487 |Justine.sywak [at] communications.gov.au