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Opening Speech 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT8)

Well thanks very much Chris, and if I could at the outset acknowledge Avril and thank her for her incredibly warm welcome, and also pay tribute to her role as a trustee of this magnificent institution.

Also, great to be here with the Governor of Queensland, his Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey also here with the Premier but more particularly tonight my fellow Arts Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk, and as fellow Arts Ministers Annastacia and I are here tonight in a mutually supportive capacity and in demonstration of that can I just say, Annastacia there is a place that you and I should both not be photographed at tonight and that's at the installation over there that says Zone of Risk, so we'll both guide each other away from there.

Could I also acknowledge the Chair of Trustees Professor Sue Street, the Director of these wonderful institutions Chris Saines and what a shocking job Chris has dragging himself to work every day in this place. What a great job you and your team have done. Members of the diplomatic corps who are with us tonight, but can I particularly acknowledge the participating artists who are here and thank them for their work and for sharing it with all of us here. Another important group that I really should acknowledge tonight and that is the community for whom this institution exists and from whom many of the resources that make it possible are brought to bear.

Well Ladies and Gentlemen, what an absolutely fabulous celebration tonight is of not only where we live, but the region that we live in and I don't think anyone of us would want to be anywhere else tonight than where we are right here and right now. Now, as some of you might know I have been the Federal Minister for the Arts for about eight weeks and about the first letter that I received as Arts Minister was from Sue Street, and Sue wrote to me saying "you've gotta get up here, you've gotta get up here for the Triennial" and one thing that really hit me in Sue's letter was when she said the Triennial was the only occurring exhibition in the world that's a feature of new artworks from across Australia, Asia and the Pacific. We have here 83 artists displayed, people representing 36 different countries, this is a monumentally significant event and I thought it was really important that I was here as the Federal Minister for the Arts.

One of the things I love about this particular exhibition is that it is not one of those display, pack up and move on sort of operations. This Triennial commissions, that this Triennial is remorselessly busy, that this exhibition at its core, the very being of this institution and its core is great and it's an incredibly diverse exhibition in its program. We have serious, scholarly search that takes place, we have the visual arts manifest in all its forms and I think a number of us might be retiring to the SaVAge K'lub a little later, if you've been through, you'll know what I mean. But also this really is a demonstration of cultural diplomacy at its effortless best, you can never quite tell where you have exchanges between countries and the Arts what connections will develop and how those might be used in the future and so this is a fantastic demonstration of cultural diplomacy.

Now at this point what Federal Ministers would usually do is talk about the dollar contribution of the Commonwealth Government, that's not something I'm going to do. It's a custom that I'm keen not to observe because it can lead to the false impression that somehow the dollars, which go through an event like this are those of the Government that they benevolently bestow to the project. Well the only resources Government has are those which are rendered by the people in this room, including artists, through taxation, and yes artists do pay tax, so today really is a celebration of the artists who are here and their incredible work but also the curatorial staff of this incredible institution, to all of you, congratulations and I look forward to be enjoying your work.

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