Brisbane singer Katie Noonan has used an appearance on the ABC‘s ‘Q&A’ program to question Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull about the reduction in arts funding implemented by the coalition government over the last few years.
Footage of Ms Noonan speaking to Mr Turnbull on last night’s edition of ‘Q&A’ (below) sees the singer begin her questions with a statement.
“I truly believe the arts have the power to unify and heal our nation like nothing else can”, she says, before asking the PM whether or not he agrees. (SPOILER: He doesn’t answer the question).
“The arts are at the heart of creative industries and in Australia the music industry alone employs 65,000 people,” Noonan continues, before stating that the coalition has cut an estimated $300 million from arts in the last three years.
Directing a further question to Mr Turnbull, Noonan asks, “With your government stating that ‘creativity is key to innovation’, and that ‘jobs and growth’ are critical to the future of this country, will you as our leader commit to funding a strong, completely independent Australia Council for the arts?”
Mr Turnbull, who doesn’t completely answer either of Noonan’s questions, begins his response by claiming the Australia Council is receiving more funding now than it did under the Labor government.
Noonan quickly reminds him that she asked about “an independent Australia Council for the arts”, and makes note of the difference between the Australia Council and the government’s Catalyst program, which has been criticised for how it allocates funds and for taking funding away from the Australia Council. Basically, she sticks it to the man.
In reply, Mr Turnbull says, “[Catalyst] funding has almost entirely gone to regional companies, to smaller regional companies in Australia who are seen to be missing out from funding from the Australia Council,” adding that the funds have not been “politically directed” by the current Arts Minister, Mitch Fifield.
When asked if he would consider shifting funding back to the Australia Council, Mr Turnbull says, “I understand the Australia Council would prefer to have more discretionary spending in its own hands, but it’s something I inherited from my predecessor’s administration and Mitch [Fifield] inherited from [former Arts Minister] George [Brandis].”
When the ‘Q&A’ studio was hijacked by student protestors back in 2014, Noonan inadvertently saved the day when host Tony Jones cut to an old episode of the program which featured a soothing performance from the singer.
There were no soothing tones this time around, though. Catch Noonan’s latest appearance on ‘Q&A’ (along with the Prime Minister’s half-response) below.