George Brandis is becoming a serial interferer. My earlier post about his activities can be found here here It picks up on stories by Paddy Gourley and Richard Ackland which went into some detail about Brandis's demand to ‘approve' the appointment of the person to be appointed as the next CEO of the Australian Film, Television and Radio School.
From last night's Budget papers we have now been informed that George has reefed $100 million from the budget of the Australia Council and handed it to his Department. The Guardian reports today that "More than $100m will be reallocated from the Australia Council to the Ministry for the Arts in order to establish a national program for excellence.The program, announced in Tuesday’s budget, will focus on attracting private sector support for the cultural sector and will be used to fund endowments and international tours. .....The arts minister, George Brandis, said these programs “will make funding available to a wider range of arts companies and arts practitioners, while at the same time respecting the preferences and tastes of Australia’s audiences”.
I am not alone in being alarmed. Arts Hub reports today "The ploy to sequester funding from the Australia Council and move it into the minister’s ambit also appears to defy the long-standing convention of cultural policy in Australia, of arms-length funding. The idea of expert panels of artists and creative professionals judging the merits of arts funding applications has been the cornerstone of the Australia Council’s operations for four decades.Minister Brandis has long appeared hostile to the principle of arms-length funding. In 2013, during the debate over the Australia Council’s governing legislation, Brandis attempted to insert a clause into the act that would have allowed the minister to exert discretion on individual funding decisions. The amendment was voted down."
Oh my goodness. This is madness of the first order for it means that George and his motley crew in the private office will be approving and vetoing every dollar of that $100 million. Believe me that's how it will work. They have recaptured a great big pot of money formerly allocated in mysterious ways but then, in a major move for transparency and honesty passed, by the previous Government, to the Australia Council for it to administer according to proper protocols. But now it's back in biased and secretive hands. The zealotry will know no end and favouritism and its accompanying suck-holing to the Minister and his crew's tastes will be the order of the day. Make no mistake this is the intention and this is not good!
Since this above was posted there has been a cracking piece about this issue by Ben Eltham posted at the ABC's online website http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-13/eltham-brandis-extraordinary-raid-of-the-australia-council/6467534
And now there's this in today's Guardian online http://www.theguardian.com/culture/commentisfree/2015/may/13/after-the-budget-shh-australias-era-of-artistic-silencing-begins?CMP=ema_632