Australia

Push to remove all art from Parliament House after scrapping of arts department

Prime Minister Scott Morrison talks to the media last week. Source: Getty

Artists and members of the public are continuing to fight the Morrison government over a major overhaul to the public sector.

After Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently decided to axe the federal arts department, artists and members of the public are hitting back online.

More than 34,000 people have signed a change.org petition demanding all art be removed from Parliament House in Canberra.

After Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently decided to axe the federal arts department, a novel online petition is gathering steam.  More than 34,000 people have signed a change.org petition demanding all art be removed from federal parliament.  "As a de
Art on display in Parliament House.
aph.gov.au

"As a demonstration to politicians of the intrinsic value of the arts in all its forms, we propose that all art be removed from Parliament House until such time as the Department of the Arts is restored with full funding," it reads.

"This should include the removal of artworks from all ministers' and sitting members' offices and from public display, the silencing of all recorded music, the postponement of any planned live performances musical or theatrical, and the covering of any statues or sculptures.

"It is only through the removal of art from the daily lives of our leaders that they will come to realise its true value to all Australians."

Some of the portraits on display at Parliament House.
Some of the portraits on display at Parliament House.
AAP

Parliament House has a permanent collection of more than 6,500 works spanning all genres of Australian art.

A selection of these works is on display throughout parliament's 4,700 rooms, including inside the offices of MPs.

The prime minister is said to get first pick of what to display, followed by presiding officers and cabinet ministers.

Cultural and creative activity contributed $111.7 billion to Australia's economy in one year.
Cultural and creative activity contributed $111.7 billion to Australia's economy in one year.
Getty

The call to take down the art comes a fortnight after Mr Morrison announced a major public sector overhaul, cutting the number of departments from 18 to 14 from next February.

Under the changes, the Department of Communications and the Arts will be rolled into a new entity that will be called the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.

The move has prompted outrage from the arts community, especially coming after previous cuts to the Australia Council.

But Minister for Communications and the Arts Paul Fletcher has since said it will be "business as usual" for the arts.

"There is no change in the resources committed to the arts - $749 million is what the Commonwealth is committing to the arts in 2019/20," he said last week.

According to the government's own figures, cultural and creative activity contributed $111.7 billion to Australia's economy in a single year.

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