Legislative Council: Tuesday, February 20, 2024


APY Art Centre Collective

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:24): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, representing the Minister for Arts, on the subject of the APY Art Centre Collective.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: In the previous sitting week, I asked several questions of the Minister for Arts via the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. I received an answer today and, with regard to my questions about the opposition art dealer who was potentially behind the video that launched the so-called scandal into the APY Art Centre Collective, they were not answered by the minister. Certainly, the role that Yanda studio played has not been addressed by the Minister for Arts in her answer.

In my question to the Minister for Arts about whether or not Greg Bearup, The Australian reporter who has made assertions and published about the findings of the tri-government review, whether he was provided with any information about the findings of the review, the Minister for Arts has advised that the terms of reference for the panel was a publicly available document. I did not ask for the terms of reference of the review, I asked whether the findings of the review—which are not publicly available—have been made available to The Australian journalist. That question remains unanswered.

I note that the potential role that Yanda studio played, which it has now been exposed that they played a role in a hit piece—both through the media and elsewhere—on APY Art Centre Collective, was also not addressed by the Minister for Arts in her answer to this question. I do note, however, that at the end of the minister's answer it says that the review is now concluded, that governance and management issues have been referred to ORIC and that consumer protection issues have been referred to the ACCC. It states that:

We are committed to supporting Aboriginal artists across South Australia to share their art with the world and ensuring their cultural heritage is respected and that culturally safe workplace practices are in place.

So my question to the Minister for Arts, via the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, is: will she now unfreeze the $40,000 that she froze during the tri-government review that was earmarked for the Port Augusta operations of the APY Art Centre Collective, and will she ensure also that the Coober Pedy APY Art Centre Collective operations can open, so that they are no longer painting in the heat, in the weather, on a basketball court, but are able to have a not just culturally safe but an appropriate workplace for their artwork?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:27): I thank the honourable member for her question. I will refer those on to the Minister for Arts in another place. Some of that I have knowledge of and can offer some answers, but the remainder I will undertake to refer to the minister in another place. I am not aware of the $40,000 commitment to arts in Port Augusta, but I am sure that the minister in another place will be able to provide an answer in relation to that.

I am aware of the arts centre in Umoona, the Aboriginal community located at Coober Pedy. I know that very well because I have spent time sitting on the basketball court, which I know has been used for change rooms for films that have been up there in the past. I have attended funerals at that basketball centre in the past as well. It is a big structure, but it is not appropriate for a modern facility for an arts centre.

I spent time with a number of artists from that community, who are doing exceptionally well. They have been finalists and, I think, even winners of the Telstra art prize, the most regarded national art prize in Australia, and I understand, but I will check with the minister in another place, that the facility—I think it was about half a million dollars from a state government grant to build a purpose-built art facility in Umoona—is, if not now, due for completion very soon, on my understanding, but I am happy to check on that.