Wednesday, 7 October 2020
Matters of Public Importance
I rise to contribute to this debate today. Last night's budget was a sheer disappointment for those who have been the hardest hit by this pandemic and the recession that has followed. The moment restrictions had to be brought in to manage the health crisis, we knew that hundreds of thousands of Australians working within the hospitality industry, the tourism industry and the arts and entertainment industry would be out of work. Yet last night the Treasurer could not even bring himself to utter the words 'art', 'artists', 'creatives', 'entertainers'—nothing. The hardest-hit sector that binds our hospitality and tourism industry together has been left out in the cold once again. We are talking about 600,000 Australian workers, who bring $112 billion to the economy. They have been left on the scrap heap. Many of them have never been able to access JobKeeper. They are still left out in the cold. Many of them are casual workers who have had hours cut, jobs cut and wages lost; and their savings, if they had any, are now running dry. We are talking about artists, musicians, authors, photographers, graphic designers, florists and the thousands and thousands of dance teachers across this country who run the dance schools that Australians send their kids to every weekend—or used to be able to.
Hundreds of thousands of Australian artists and those who work in the creative industries have been left on the scrap heap today after receiving nothing in this budget despite being hit the hardest by this economic crisis. Of course, the arts and entertainment industry, like retail, hospitality and tourism, is predominantly female oriented. Women are at the heart of this crisis, carrying the economic burden, and they have received nothing out of this budget. It beggars belief that, after six months, the Treasurer last night gave a speech and did not utter a word about supporting Australia's arts and cultural sector and industry. It's as if art doesn't matter. It's as if culture doesn't exist. It's as if, for the last six months of lockdown, Australians have not turned on the television or their streaming service and watched shows that have entertained them, or have not turned on the radio or stereo and listened to music or have not got themselves into a good book. It's as if art and culture in this country mean nothing.
The Prime Minister spends quite a bit of time going to the football. Wouldn't it be wonderful if every now and then he went to a community arts centre? Wouldn't it be wonderful if he swapped the footy scarf every now and again for a book that was written by an Australian author? Or supported some kids at their local community art show? That is the kind of Prime Minister who would be acting in the interests of every single Australian.