Senate debates

Thursday, 8 October 2020

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers


3:29 pm

Photo of Sarah Hanson-YoungSarah Hanson-Young (SA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister representing the Prime Minister (Senator Cormann) to a question without notice asked by Senator Hanson-Young today relating to the arts and entertainment industry.

I rise to take note of the answers given to my questions to Senator Cormann in relation to the lack of support for Australia's artists, the arts community, the art and creative sector and the industries that rely on our artistic and creative workers. On Tuesday night, artists right around the country were shocked that the Treasurer, after six months of the industry suffering because of the various levels of restrictions and the hard blow to the industry because of COVID-19, could not even utter the word art in his budget speech. It's just a disgrace. Hundreds of thousands of Australian workers within our arts and creative sector have been left out in the cold. Very little support has been put on the table for them. The government talks about the fact that they could have access to JobKeeper or JobSeeker without actually understanding that because of the nature of this industry, many, many artists and creative workers across the country have gone without anything. They don't qualify for JobKeeper, and some may be on JobSeeker, but, of course, we know that the government's about to force those people back to living on $40 a day, so it's hardly helping those who are struggling within those areas of work.

The budget failed to recognise that this industry needs support, that it was one of the hardest hit, that it was the first hit by the COVID-19 recession and that it will be the last to come out. You'd think that this government would have bothered to put more support on the table. But, of course, there was nothing. One of the saddest things about all of this is that it pales in comparison to what other countries have done. I asked Senator Cormann about this. In the UK, the government have put 1½ billion pounds on the table because they understand that the arts and cultural institutions and industry and sector are vital to a functioning democracy, vital to the economy. Germany has put billions of euros the table. We know that in France they have allowed for a special unemployment scheme for actors, for performers, for artists who are out of work because of COVID-19. Of course, Senator Cormann is about to go and try and win the plum job of secretary-general of the OECD. It's not much of a track record you're taking from Australia, Senator Cormann, when it comes to the arts and creative sector.

One of the worst parts of this budget has been that it's those sectors which mainly employ women who have been the hardest hit. We're talking the arts and the entertainment sector. We're talking hospitality, tourism, retail. Despite all of that—most people who have lost their jobs because of COVID, being women; most people who have lost their hours because of COVID, being women; most people who are suffering through this recession, being women—there's really nothing in there for women. So, if you happen to work in the arts and entertainment industry and you happen to be a woman, it's a pretty bad budget for you—a terrible budget for you. You've been left on the scrap heap. It's absolutely appalling, and it begs the questions: Does this government have a problem with Australian women? Does this government have a problem with supporting Australian women to get back into work, to have enough income to pay the bills and to have affordable child care so they can get on with doing it? Why has this Prime Minister left Australian women on the scrap heap? Why has this Prime Minister left women out in the cold? He doesn't seem to like art very much. He doesn't seem to like culture very much. He loves the footy. He loves his tradies building renovated kitchens. And he's done nothing for women. It's a pretty sad day for Australian women and a pretty bad budget to boot.

Question agreed to.