Singer Katie Noonan sent Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stumbling for an answer over Arts Funding on Q&A on Monday night.
The sitting Liberal National Party government slashed arts funding in Australia after Senator George Brandis diverted the spending decisions of the independent Australia Council into his own vanity project Catalyst.
Catalyst went on to withdraw funding from major contemporary arts platforms such as Sounds Australia, smothering the ability for Australian artists to generate export dollars for Australia and income within Australia.
The music industry in Australia is worth $6 billion annually to the economy. More tickets to live events are sold in Australia each year than to every sporting match combined.
Katie started with the statement “I truly believe the Arts have the power to unify and heal our nation like nothing else can” and then asked the Prime Minister if he believed it. She then took him to task of funding cutbacks affected the 65,000 people employed in the local industry. The Liberal National Party government has cut an estimated $300 million from Arts organisations. She asked if he would commit to funding a strong and independent Australia Council (thus disbanding the Brandis vanity project now controlled by Mitch Fifield).
Turnbull immediately chose to divert the issue starting off with a dig at Labor. “The Australia Council is now getting more funding than it ever did under a Labor Government,” he began before being quickly pulled back into line by Noonan. “I asked you about an independent Australia Council for the Arts. Not Brandis’ Australia Council for the Arts,” she fired back.
Turnbull attempted to make light of the question. “George Brandis I thought you’d all be fans of because he is from Queensland …”. Katie just shook her head. The audience laughed at the PM.
“Do you understand the difference between Catalyst and independent Australia Council,” she injected.
“I do,” said the Prime Minister before waffling an explanation that backed her point, not that of the government. Turnbull tried to explain that the Brandis (now Fifield) portfolio was diverting money to smaller, regional companies “who had been missing out from the Australia Council funding”.
Watch Katie Noonan put the Prime Minister on the spot over Arts Funding:
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