Nobody Mourns

What Mr. Garrett Didn’t Do

You can count me amongst those who had low expectations for Peter Garrett as Federal Minister for the Arts. He’s been replaced by Simon Crean. It seems to me that if he struck out in two areas that have been his calling card for the better part of then decades – namely the environment and the arts – then it seems to me he really doesn’t have much more of an upside as a politician.

With that I want to share with you a link sent in by Pleiades.

Few seem to be mourning the passing of the old one, Peter Garrett. He might have been the first Australian arts minister in history to have been a working musician, but that doesn’t seem to have won him many friends in the sector. The silence from the arts community on his departure has been deafening – indeed, some arts figures have been openly critical, like Evelyn Richardson of performing arts industry lobby group Live Performance Australia.

News Limited’ s Ashleigh Wilson (no mean musician himself, in his life away from journalism) examines Garrett’s strange unpopularity in an article for The Punch. He rightly points to Garrett’s strangely muted performance during the Bill Henson affair as the source of considerable discontent in the sector. Garrett also mishandled the micro-controversy over funding for the Australian National Academy of Music, and seemed to go silent during other important debates, like the Cooper Review’s recommendation to exclude art as a valid self-managed superannuation investment.

Garrett did have some wins, including some significant legislation in the Resale Royalty Act for Visual Artists, a new law which, for the first time, gives visual artists a royalty each time one of their works is resold.

And that about sums up the relative quietness in seeing off Mr. Garrett.

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