House debates

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Statements by Members

COVID-19: Arts and Recreation

1:42 pm

Photo of Andrew WilkieAndrew Wilkie (Clark, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

No sector is unscathed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is our precious arts and creative industries that must be among the hardest hit. Indeed, thousands of events and exhibitions have been cancelled, more than half of all smaller arts organisations have closed and more than 600,000 people have lost their incomes. Tasmania's thriving arts tourism scene in particular is reeling from the loss of this year's Dark Mofo winter festival, which would have been worth $50 million to the local economy.

Despite all this, the federal government's response has been to virtually ignore the situation. Yes, there's $27 million in targeted measures, but, frankly, this is bugger all. Nor is of much help the federal arts minister's insistence that JobKeeper and jobseeker are available, as thousands of people in the arts and creative industries perform short-term freelance work and can't get JobKeeper and their erratic incomes mean that many more miss out on jobseeker. All of this is for the sector that has suffered years of funding cuts and was in a precarious position before the pandemic. There is not even a federal arts department anymore.

Those who work in the arts and creative industries have families to support and bills to pay. They must be supported with a living wage. The government needs to step up and deal with this, and deal with it now.