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Speech at the Regional Arts Australia National Visual Arts Showcase

E & OE


Thank you very much Daryl, and I'd like to acknowledge the sensational work you do as the director of the Museum of Australian Democracy. Also great to be here with my good friend, and chair of the council, Dr David Kemp who is one of the substantial figures in the last twenty years of Australian politics and a significant academic and historian as well, and does a great job as the chief steward of this important institution. Kate Fielding, chair of Regional Arts Australia, and John Oster, the Executive Director, great to be with you as well. And Mr Edmund Capon AM OBE.

Now I'm someone who has been a Victorian for the past 25 years, but I grew up in Sydney. And for someone my age who grew up in Sydney Mr Capon has always existed in an artistic sense, the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end. He served under 9 premiers in New South Wales, an incredible effort. Terrific to have Edmund here to do the official launch very shortly. I've got to say I love this building. I was chatting to David Kemp as we were coming in here. And I'm one of those who wish that we had never moved up the hill to that building there. This is just such a fabulous structure. It's a very human scale. Although it's not a colonial period building, it shares the dimensions of the colonial state parliaments. And it's a fabulous place. And look, if it's not going to continue to serve as our national parliament, there's no better use for it than to serve as the Museum of Australian Democracy. I just had to get that off my chest about new Parliament House.

We're here for a very important occasion: the regional arts showcase. It's a fantastic program; it's a fantastic initiative to bring together two works from each jurisdiction to have a mentor and a mentee to present visions of Australia from regional and remote Australia. And can I acknowledge, through one particular artist, all of those who are exhibited here. Donna Fortescue, and her work "Beneath the Southern Cross We Stand" and her mentor Sandra Hill, and her work "skin deep". I love the depiction of the flag that Donna has for us to see next door. So thank you and I acknowledge all the artists through the work that you have presented here.

But there's something very important tonight that I'm not going to do. And that is I'm not going to mention the dollar figure that the Commonwealth Government has given to this project. And I'm not going to mention the dollar figure that the Commonwealth Government has given to Regional Arts Australia. The reason that I'm not going to mention the dollar figure is that whenever a federal government minister mentions a dollar figure for a particular program, it can give the misleading impression that it is somehow money that the government of the day has benevolently bestowed upon a particular venture or a particular organisation or a particular artist. It's not the government's money. It's the money that you and the artists, have rendered in taxes. And the role of the Government in this case is to simply be the steward or the channel to direct that to particular purposes. So all credit today should go to the artists and curators for what they have created and for what they are sharing with us tonight. Thanks very much.

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