Today the NSW Liberal Government ignored 13,000 petitioners calling to keep the National Art School Independent and properly funded. Read our speech supporting the community and standing up for this vital institution.
Ms JENNY LEONG ( Newtown ) ( 16:51 :10 ): By leave: As the spokesperson for the arts and creative industries for The Greens in New South Wales and on behalf of the member for Ballina, who wishes to express her solidarity with and support for this petition but could not be in the Chamber this afternoon, I speak in support of the crucial work of artists and arts workers in this State. I applaud the commitment of students, artists and supporters of the National Art School who are here today demanding that we politicians listen to them and protect the independence of the historic and important National Art School by funding it. I found it offensive that some local members participated in the opening of the current art exhibition in Parliament House's foyer and took the opportunity to promote their electorates, and yet at the same time they do not support the petition signed by 10,000-plus people that we are discussing. Some of the artworks hanging in the exhibition are by graduates of the National Art School, and many graduates of the school have been finalists over the years.
These years of the Baird Government will go down in history as years when the New South Wales public was robbed of assets and our cultural heritage. Those opposite are attempting to privatise everything and they are ignoring the interests of the community. Members of the arts community and so many other communities are fed up. That is why we have received many petitions with 10,000-plus signatures and why many people have joined large protest marches to express their views outside Parliament House. I congratulate everyone in the public gallery today who joined the march about the National Art School. It was held on a rainy day, and I have never seen such a large rally on a rainy day. I also thank the person who gave me the great orange T-shirt I have from the march.
The Greens will not support a merger of the National Art School. It has been under threat by closure and merger time and time again. We all know that the arts have an intrinsic value in the same way that science or maths does, but unfortunately this Conservative Coalition Government does not seem to understand that. Those opposite do not understand the value of funding the arts and ensuring that our artists are supported. We need support for the arts. We need funding allocated to the arts. The Greens will cherish and nourish our artists and our art education institutions. We need to see a commitment to the National Art School funding to preserve its integrity. This Government needs to work with the Commonwealth Government to secure the National Art School's ongoing status as a vital national art education institution.