Minister for the Arts, Joy Burchis seething after the Liberals and Greens joined forces in the Assembly to stymie the long planned handover of the Kingston Fitters’ Workshop to Megalo Print Studio.
Ms Burch said it was appalling the Greens and Liberals colluded today to suspend work indefinitely on the Fitters? Workshop for Megalo to move in, as the move had now put the organisation?s future in jeopardy.
“The Government has spoken to Megalo staff today and they are devastated by what the Liberals and Greens have done,” Ms Burch said.
“Their 2012 program, which they had prepared in good faith, is now in tatters because of the political opportunism of the Greens and Liberals. It is clear the only ones looking out for Megalo in this debate is the ACT Government.”
Ms Burch said Megalo Chief Executive Alison Alder had written to Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur and leader Meredith Hunter imploring the Greens not to support Mrs Dunne?s motion, but her pleas fell on deaf ears. Ms Alder wrote yesterday to the Greens saying:
“I am extremely distressed to discover that Mrs Dunne is putting forward a motion in [today’s] Assembly which has the potential to delay the Governments decision regarding the relocation of Megalo to the Fitters Workshop in mid 2012.
“You may not be aware that Megalo programs its activities 18 months in advance. In fact we are soon to go through the selection process for our 2012 international, national and local residency program. If the process of relocation is delayed it will put our programming into disarray, causing loss of income, reputation and instability. These comments also apply to our education and gallery programs.”
Ms Burch said the Greens and Liberals were not being honest with the community by hiding their true motivations behind demands for more “consultation?.
“It is clear that what the Greens and Liberals really want is for the Government to reverse its decision at the expense of Megalo’s future. The Government will now consider its options to ensure that Megalo’s urgent accommodation needs are addressed.”
UPDATE: The Greens’ Caroline Le Couteur is explaining her actions:
The former Chief Minister promised Megalo, an outstanding Canberra community printing organisation, that they could move into the Fitters’ Workshop. Unfortunately this was promised without adequate public or arts community consultation.
“We are seeking to determine the best use of a special Canberra building, for all the Canberra Community,” said Ms Le Couteur, ACT Greens arts spokesperson.
“My amendment ensures that the inquiry thoroughly examines the acoustic qualities of the building and community demand for it.
“The Government has failed to fully evaluate the value of the Fitters’ Workshop to choral and other classical music groups, which has left a huge question hanging. We have now been forced to rectify these shortcomings to ensure that this heritage listed community asset is best utilised.
“Megalo plays an important role in the Canberra visual arts sector and the Greens think that they will be a good fit for the Kingston Arts Precinct. It is unfortunate that they find themselves stuck in the middle of this situation created by the Government’s lack of due process.
“The Government have admitted they failed to consider the acoustic value of the building when it was discovered, and that they instead preferred to plough ahead with their plans.
“The Greens believe that the best use of the site should be examined first, and then the Government should decide who should use it, not the other way around. The committee inquiry is the only way for this to be achieved now, as the Government have refused to do it through normal consultation processes.
“The proposed work on the Fitters’ Workshop has not yet been approved by the planning authority and we do not believe that the Assembly inquiry will delay any outcome for the site. The committee is expected to report in March 2012.
“My amendment also asked that the Government guarantee ongoing Megalo accommodation, no matter what the outcome of the inquiry,” Ms Le Couteur said.