Hanson Young, I’m pleading with the government, fund a specific package for arts and entertainment.
Sarah Hanson Young: Some months ago, late in the evening, when we were debating the rescue packages being put forward by the government, I stood in this place and argued that there needed to be an arts-and-entertainment-industry-specific package before more jobs were lost and before more businesses went to the wall. Sadly, that didn’t happen. Some people, of course, have been able to access JobKeeper, but many within the industry have been left out in the cold. But the big question will come in September when JobKeeper ends. The arts and entertainment industry will not be in a position come September to resume and to snap back as the government continues to insist. It just won’t be.
So several months on I’m now pleading with the government again and for all in this place to insist that the Minister for Finance, who has the ability on rules that have already been agreed to by this place and the other, fund a specific package for arts and entertainment. I understand that this is an amendment that is quite separate to the rest of this bill, but it is important, it is urgent and we are facing an arts and entertainment emergency. It’s totally lawful to do it. It’s about whether you want to.
I specifically haven’t put a figure in this amendment, because I want that to be based on the best advice that Treasury, the finance minister and the arts minister have and on what the Prime Minister is willing to cough up. This amendment requires the government to at least spend something on an industry that is going bust day after day. Every day we wait for something to be put on the table is another day another Australian artist, entertainer or creative worker loses their job. Every day we wait for something to be put on the table another business goes to the wall. Many of these businesses are small businesses. They employ a handful of people, but that is their livelihood.
Other industries have been acknowledged as needing specific support. We heard last week the Prime Minister make an announcement about the housing and construction industry. The arts and entertainment industry have lost almost one-third of their workforce. They are in desperate need of assistance and support. We can’t wait until we come back to this place in August to see movement on this. We need to do something about it today.
The Prime Minister is already on the record saying that he understands this is an issue that needs to be dealt with. Here is an opportunity to make sure that something can happen and happen quickly. You can iron out the details. You as the government can decide what figure you want to put on it. This amendment says that the parliament requires it to happen.
I appeal to the Labor Party. They’ve been quite vocal on this issue as well. Let’s make sure something actually happens. Let’s make sure that the government is required to deliver a package—not just have the Prime Minister make promises when he’s getting a few tough questions on his favourite radio show. Let’s make sure that this parliament requires the government to do something for the arts and entertainment sector. Up to this point it has been all hollow promises and nothing has come down the line. It has been over a week and still there is nothing from this government. It has been three months, and the industry has gotten in a worse situation. Hundreds of thousands of Australians are unemployed because this government didn’t act when it should have. Hundreds of thousands of Australians will remain out of work if we don’t get something done today. I appeal to both sides to pass these amendments and to get on with supporting the arts and the entertainment sector across Australia.
Chamber Senate on 12/06/2020 Item BILLS – Treasury Laws Amendment (2019 Measures No. 3) Bill 2019 – In Committee Speaker: Hanson-Young, Sen Sarah
Source and Credits: Parliament of Australia website 2020