Michelle Lensink

Statutes Amendment (Arts Agencies Governance And Other Matters) Bill

This speech is to indicate that the Liberal Party support the Statutes Amendment (Arts Agencies Governance And Other Matters) Bill.

Adjourned debate on second reading.

(Continued from 16 September 2010.)

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (15:36): I rise to indicate that the Liberal opposition will be supporting this particular bill. I think it is fair to say that it arises from a fairly sensible review which was conducted by Arts SA to standardise sections of the arts acts. There are quite a number of them which have been promulgated, if that is the correct term. These are acts which govern such institutions as the Museum, the State Library, State Opera, the State Theatre Company, the Festival Centre, the Art Gallery, Carrick Hill and the History Trust, among others. They have been promulgated over some many decades and, therefore, as governance has matured over the years, some of them need to be updated to catch up. I note that the member for Bragg in another place stated that it is her personal philosophy that, on this side of the chamber at least, we certainly do not agree that a one-size-fits-all approach is necessarily required for these things. However, I think in this instance it is probably an improvement. I would encourage honourable members to read the comprehensive contribution of the Liberal Party leader and our spokesperson on the arts, Isobel Redmond, on 15 September in the House of Assembly.

The bill introduces a set of fairly standardised governance arrangements for all of our arts bodies. It simplifies the relationships with the government and stipulates a set of consistent powers and functions for each board or trust. A number of those governance provisions relate to the board, the composition of the board, the conditions of membership, ministerial direction and control, any committees that may be established by the board, delegations, common seals, annual reports, annual budgets, staffing arrangements, authorised offices, official insignia, issues to do with gifts and so forth. They are set out in the bill which itself is relatively lengthy, but that is because it is an amending act which identifies all of those acts and then inserts those provisions into them.

I would also like to place on the record our gratitude to the many people who have served on those boards over many years. All South Australians owe a debt of gratitude to the people who are prepared to serve in this capacity. The arts industry does not have the sort of financial records and so forth, including sponsorship, to make it an easy area to operate in. Indeed, I recall that our former minister for the arts in the last Liberal government, the Hon. Diana Laidlaw, was able to obtain, I think, under interesting circumstances, some funding for a Rodin sculpture. I am not sure whether the former treasurer, the Hon. Rob Lucas, would have approved of the manner in which she obtained that funding, and I am not even sure whether—

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I was always very happy with whatever Diana did.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I am pleased with the Hon. Mr Lucas's response that he was always pleased with however the Hon. Diana Laidlaw was able to make contributions to the arts. She was very creative in that regard. I am not convinced that that would readily be able to take place with the present administration.

As I said, there are a number of different trusts and institutions that are covered by this particular piece of legislation, and members would be very familiar with them, many of which are located quite close to us in the North Terrace Precinct. The composition of each board will be a maximum of eight members which will include at least two women and two men. Board appointments will be for up to three years, with a maximum nine-year period, and boards must meet at least six times in each year.

Each board is subject to general direction and control of the minister; however, there will be a level of independence established by statute. I have referred to the issue of the committees. There will be conflict of interest provisions, and the like. So, with those comments I endorse the bill to Legislative Council members and look forward to the committee stage of the debate.

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