Hon. RM BATES (Mudgeeraba—LNP) (Minister for Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts):
I rise to speak on the Queensland Art Gallery Amendment Bill, a bill which will establish a foundation committee to raise funds to assist in the fulfilment of the Queensland Art Gallery board’s functions. The current Queensland Art Gallery Foundation has been in place since 1979 and has raised over $70 million in donations, bequests and gifts of artworks from both private and corporate donors. Work sourced through the foundation constitutes about one-third of the gallery’s collection and includes masterpieces by such renowned artists as Ian Fairweather, Sally Gabori and Tracey Moffatt.
In 2008 an Auditor-General’s report highlighted some governance problems with the current constitution of the foundation which may have exposed those involved to some legal liability. Those problems included concerns that the board oversight of the foundation was not sufficient, there was no explicit protection from civil liability when carrying out the functions of the foundation committee and there was no clarification to the foundation’s role as a charitable body. This bill places the fundraising arm of the Queensland Art Gallery on a much stronger footing. By allowing the Queensland Art Gallery board to establish a foundation committee, it clarifies the authority of the board over the foundation committee, establishing a clear line of governance. Importantly, this bill also ensures that foundation committee members are protected from civil liability when carrying out the function of the foundation committee. This model brings Queensland into line with the successful National Gallery of Victoria fundraising model which provides an appropriate level of certainty to those in that role.
This bill was tabled in the last parliament and lapsed when parliament was prorogued. I made it a priority to reintroduce it into this parliament, and it was referred to the parliamentary Education and Innovation Committee. On 8 June 2012, that committee tabled its Report No. 2, entitled Queensland Art Gallery Amendment Bill 2012 to the parliament. The Education and Innovation Committee noted that the previous version of the bill, the Queensland Art Gallery Amendment Bill 2011, was introduced into parliament on 29 November 2011 and was referred to the former finance and administration committee. The Education and Innovation Committee noted that the bills are essentially the same and that the former committee, the finance and administration committee, had called for public submissions by way of public advertisement and by writing directly to stakeholders. It was noted that no submissions were received and the scheduled departmental briefing had not occurred prior to the dissolution of parliament.
Given the short time frame for the Education and Innovation Committee to finalise its report and considering that no submissions had been received, the committee did not call for further public submissions. A departmental briefing was conducted before the Education and Innovation Committee in May 2012. I would like to thank the Education and Innovation Committee for its detailed report on the Gallery Amendment Bill 2012, which was tabled last month. In particular, I would like to thank those new members of parliament who have applied themselves to the task with gusto and relish. The committee has delivered a comprehensive report, and I am particularly pleased to note that the committee’s recommendations in respect of this bill are unanimous.
The Queensland government response to the Education and Innovation Committee’s Report No. 2 relating to the Queensland Art Gallery Amendment Bill 2012 was recently tabled. The committee’s report notes that recommendations in respect of the bill are unanimous and recommends that the Queensland Art Gallery Amendment Bill 2012 be passed. The committee also recommended the terms of appointment of members of the foundation committee reflect the terms of appointment of board members, given the foundation committee members are appointed by the board and considering the close relationship between those two bodies.
Under the current legislation, the Queensland Art Gallery Act 1987, board members are appointed for a term of not more than three years. The bill does not prescribe maximum terms of appointment for nominees for appointment as foundation committee members. However, the bill does set out the governance arrangements for the foundation committee. The bill provides that the board appoints the members of the foundation committee and may decide the constitution of that committee. The terms of appointment of current board members are aligned at present. However, it is possible that any future appointment terms may be staggered. As at least two members of the foundation committee must be board members, the terms of appointment of these members must align with their existing terms of appointment as board members.
The constitution may deal with terms of appointments of members of the foundation committee and will provide the board with flexibility in aligning the terms of appointment of any nominees proposed to be appointed as members of the foundation committee. I consider this arrangement to be sufficient for the board to ensure that foundation committee members are appointed for up to three years only and do not propose to amend the bill to specify this requirement.
The Education and Innovation Committee also recommended that the board be required to decide the name and membership conditions, and endorse the constitution for, the foundation committee as the foundation committee will include non-board members. The Queensland government supports this recommendation and I will move an amendment during consideration in detail of the bill which will place a mandatory requirement on the board to decide the name and membership conditions, and endorse the constitution for, the foundation committee. The amendment will retain the current general power for the board to determine matters outside the legislative provisions and this will ensure that the board retains control over the foundation committee and has flexibility to determine any other governance arrangements.
A further recommendation from the Education and Innovation Committee was that consideration be given to ensuring there is capacity to terminate the appointment of a member of the foundation committee if that member was found to have breached sections of the bill regarding disclosure ofconflicts of interest and dealing with material personal interests. In this regard, the board will be able to rely on current section 25 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1954 to terminate any appointments. Section 25 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1954 provides that if an act authorises or requires a person or body to appoint a person to an office, the power includes the power to remove or suspend, at any time, a person appointed to the office. This power to terminate is also consistent with the power of the Governor in Council under the current legislation to end the appointment of all or any board member at any time and for any reason or none. In addition, section 22 of the Queensland Art Gallery Act 1987 provides that the board is subject to written directions in exercising its powers if the minister determines this is required.
Lastly, the committee sought clarification of the reporting obligations to be placed on the foundation committee, including and in addition to annual reporting requirements. Under the bill, the foundation committee will be a committee of the board, which is a statutory body established by the Queensland Art Gallery Act 1987. The board is also a ‘statutory body’ under the Financial Accountability Act 2009 and the Statutory Bodies Financial Arrangements Act 1982. As the foundation committee will be a committee of the board, its operations are also subject to the legislation mentioned above and the prescribed reporting requirements, which ensures regular reporting of activities. For example, the Financial Accountability Act 2009 provisions relating to ensuring the operations of the statutory body are carried out efficiently, effectively and economically; preparing financial statements and annual reports; as well as establishing and maintaining appropriate systems of internal control and risk management apply to the board and its committees.
Financial information relating to the foundation committee’s activities is required to be included in the board’s financial statements as the foundation committee is controlled by the board. The financial statements are consolidated into the board’s financial reports. The Queensland Art Gallery Act 1987 also contains additional reporting requirements which apply to the board and, as a result of the bill, these will apply to the foundation committee. Section 43 requires the board to prepare and submit to the minister for agreement draft strategic and operational plans for the board which must include a statement of resource implications and any major policy changes along with any budget documents.
Section 49 requires the board’s operational plans to include an outline of investments and borrowings that the board intends to make together with an outline of the nature and scope of activities, including commercial and fundraising activities that the board proposes to make.
Section 51 requires the board to keep the minister reasonably informed of the board’s operations, including its financial and operational performance of the achievement of its goals. This section also requires the board to give the minister reports and information that may be required to enable the minister to make informed assessments of the matters mentioned earlier.
Section 53 requires the board to include a summary of the operational plan for the relevant financial year in its annual report under the Financial Accountability Act 2009. Under its current constitution, the Foundation Council prepares an annual report for the foundation, minutes of all resolutions and proceedings of general matters of the foundation and proper accounts. The board proposes to maintain current reporting practices, and the bill provides the board with the power to do so. It will have the power to determine the foundation committee’s constitution and procedures, including for example the keeping of minutes. Currently, separate monthly financial statements are prepared for the foundation and presented at subsequently scheduled board meetings.
I again commend the bill to the House, together with the proposed amendments which I will move during consideration in detail, to enable the important work of the foundation to continue into the future to support the board in developing the state’s collection of artworks to the benefit of the Queensland community.
Hon. RM BATES (Mudgeeraba—LNP) (Minister for Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts) (10.51 pm), in reply: I would like to thank all the members who have contributed to the debate on the Queensland Art Gallery Amendment Bill. We have heard from government and nongovernment members, and it is pleasing to have such widespread bipartisan support united in finally putting the foundation on the proper legal footing so it can continue its world-class work unimpeded. The purpose of the bill is to provide a clear legal status in response to the Auditor-General's corporate governance concerns and to extend the functions to further develop the gallery's collection of artworks.
We also want to increase the protection from civil liability and to make the board a charitable institution. Queensland art galleries are leading the nation in terms of popularity and will continue to act as a major drawcard as we grow our reputation as a cultural tourism destination. I thank again the member for Burdekin for her comprehensive summary of the Education and Innovation Committee's consideration of the bill. The member for Ferny Grove spoke about the importance of the QAG's andGoMA's work in the regions—a contribution which highlights the Newman government's commitment to providing arts for all Queenslanders.
The member for Logan spoke about the importance of art education and supporting arts for children. I was pleased to be part of the member's art competition and present students with certificates.
The member for Ipswich West spoke about the appointment processes for foundation committee members. Getting the right team with the right skill sets is of paramount importance. Not only do we need industry, finance and community representatives; we need people who can better engage with the private sector to encourage more corporate support and philanthropy.
It will be the board's responsibility to look after appointments and terminations. Betting will be rigorous and the bar will be set high. The bill sets out governance arrangements for the foundation committee and includes a requirement for the board to endorse the constitution of the foundation committee. At least two board members must sit on the foundation, and all matters potentially representing a conflict of interest will be dealt with in a transparent and accountable manner.
The member for Burnett spoke about the important work the foundation had been undertaking in relation to the 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art. I was particularly impressed to hear about Huang Yong Ping's work—a signature work in the 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art. Alongwith many other members, the member for Burnett also recognised the important role played by Mr Tim Fairfax and the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation in supporting programs for children and regional Queensland.
The member for Waterford recognised the gallery's major international exhibitions, community focus and work with children. The member for Redlands noted that the make-up of the foundation committee will be designed to develop the gallery's collection. The member for Lytton spoke about the ability of the board to delegate its powers to the foundation committee. I appreciate the member for Stafford's observations about the value of art and the sharing of experiences and the role of the Queensland Art Gallery in enhancing the cultural and intellectual strengths of Queensland.
The member for Mansfield spoke of the importance of giving confidence to donors through certainty and structure, and this is what this bill will achieve. The member for Maryborough spoke eloquently and passionately about the foundation and particular types of artworks acquired since the foundation's inception in 1979. It is a diverse and eclectic collection spanning from the historical to the contemporary including world-class Indigenous and Australian art as well as pieces from the AsiaPacific region.
The member for Pine Rivers spoke about the committee structures. The Queensland Art Gallery Board of Trustees looked long and hard at all the options, but the committee was the preferred option as
it strengthens the foundation without fundamentally changing its status. A second seriously considered option was to form a company to act as trustee, but this structure had limitations on the foundation's ability to deal with donations, particularly in relation to tax incentives and eligibility around the Commonwealth government's Cultural Gifts Program.
Another avenue was establishing the foundation as a trust with corporate and individual trustees, but that was restrictive and fraught with complications, too. There is a genuine need for the foundation to obtain deductible gift recipient status so that donations are tax deductible for the payee. This gives incentive to donors. It also makes the board a charitable institution in relation to a gift. The bill will allow private ancillary funds which are restricted to donating to charities to donate to the board. The bottom line is by creating a foundation committee the structure is given a solid platform and enhances fundraising capacity.
The member for Burleigh spoke about the consultation process that took place in the development of the bill. Since being sworn in as Minister for the Arts, I have been to both the Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art on many occasions. I had the honour of opening the Prado exhibition at the Art Gallery and spoke at the opening night of the Contemporary Australia: Women exhibition at GoMA. We are privileged in Queensland to have two world-class institutions. I am hopeful that the successful passing of this bill will allow the foundation to build on the success of these great institutions and further enhance Brisbane's growing reputation as an arts and cultural mecca.
This bill is a long time coming, but the day has finally arrived. Our enormously popular art galleries and all of the hardworking people behind the scenes have achieved so much even with restrictions in place. After this bill is passed, the shackles will come off. The foundation committee can get on the front foot and be even more proactive in making Queensland a global arts leader.
Finally, I would like to set the record straight regarding some matters arising from my first reading speech. The 'L-plated' member for South Brisbane is trying to twist the facts and play gutter politics, but I refuse to stoop to that level because I suspect that she would beat me with experience every time. The greenhorn member for South Brisbane would be well advised to ask her leader and deputy leader, who were both ministers in the former government, about how the system actually works. This is a history lesson for the member. The explanatory notes are a factual summary of the bill. The first reading speech is typically a dispassionate summary of the matters included in the explanatory notes. It is dispassionate and dry for a reason, because some day a court may have to decide what the legislative intent of a particular provision is by looking at what the minister has said in these types of speeches.
Ms Trad: And you were on the parliamentary committee that saw the first explanatory speech.
You are a joke! You are incompetent and you are a joke!
Ms BATES: Maybe the member for South Brisbane might stop interjecting across the chamber—
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Berry): Order! There is too much noise. We are nearly finished. I call the minister.
Ms BATES: First reading speeches are not supposed to be flamboyant or filled with rhetoric; they are supposed to be purely factual. I was given a speech by the department that filled those requirements. As the bill introduced by the last government was identical to the bill introduced by this government, the speech was always going to be substantially similar. The department provided a speech to Minister Nolan which she read word for word. Unfortunately, the department provided an identical speech to me. Indeed, the department never provided Ms Nolan's speech to compare, otherwise my staff would have picked it up.
Ms Trad interjected.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The issue has been raised. She is answering it. Let her answer it. She is not taking interjections.
Ms BATES: I table a copy of the department's director-general note confirming that no copy of the original speech was ever included.
Tabled paper: Email, dated 14 August 2012, from Digby McLeay to Hon. Ros Bates .
In these areas in which the department is responsible, I expect high standards—those high standards are higher than cutting and pasting. My mistake was not checking every single word in every single brief to ensure it was accurate. I cannot do that and put my focus on where it should be, which is getting Queensland back on track. Instead of moving on and concentrating on getting the bill enacted, there were further dirty politics from those opposite and in particular from the wet behind the ears member for South Brisbane, who just cannot help herself. She is cut from the same cloth as her seat predecessor, wallowing in smear and innuendo. This time the member for South Brisbane spoke to Crikey's Ben Eltham, and I table an article claiming that Ros Bates was present in the House when the first reading speech from the previous parliament was given.
Tabled paper: Page 1 of article from Crikey, dated 1 June 2012, titled 'The minister, the speech and the troubled department'
The fact of the matter is that I was not present in the chamber when the previous minister delivered it, as claimed. The chamber footage—
Ms Palaszczuk: Did you have the TV on?
Ms BATES: I am answering the question, Annastacia. The chamber footage is freely available on the parliamentary website and only one minute and 37 seconds of the speech was actually delivered by Minister Nolan. The rest, as usual from the lazy Labor government, was incorporated into Hansard so not even the whole speech was read. I table a snapshot of the House taken from when Minister Nolan was speaking; I am nowhere to be seen.
Tabled paper: Screenshot of Legislative Assembly chamber, on 29 November 2011 at 19:40:34 .
I also table a screen shot taken immediately after the minister was speaking again, and again I am not there.
Tabled paper: Screenshot of Legislative Assembly chamber, on 29 November 2011 at 19:42:01 .
Importantly, the second shot includes footage of my empty seat. I will also address the allegations surrounding the dismissal of the former deputy director of arts, Shane Rowlands. It was widely reported in the media that she was sacked as a result of my department's blunder; this is not actually the case. There were a number of issues surrounding her performance which I will not go into here but they were very significant. So if I can give the member for South Brisbane some advice it would be this: no-one will listen to you if you continually mislead them; make sure your criticisms are factual; do not pretend you know something when you clearly do not; and do not allow your ambition to overcome your ability.
Ms Trad interjected.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Member for South Brisbane, you raised the issue. The minister is not taking interjections so you should listen to the minister. She is responding.
Ms BATES: The member for South Brisbane should check her facts before she goes off half cocked, trying to besmirch people's reputations in order to score cheap political points. I hope the member for South Brisbane learns from this unfortunate experience and lifts her game. For the sake of her long-suffering constituents, she must abandon the fast and 'loose with the truth' style she learnt so well from the previous member for South Brisbane. I remind her of what the people thought of that negative style of politicking.
Another story from Ben Eltham appeared in Crikey today, alleging job losses inside some of our statutory bodies. This article and the article from the Australian, which I table, caused all sorts of
concerns over at the statutory bodies today.
Tabled paper: Page 2 of article from Crikey, dated 1 June 2012, titled 'The minister, the speech and the troubled department'
There are no changes to core funding allocations or full-time equivalent staff members at the arts statutory bodies due to the Newman government's state budget for 2012-13.
Ms Trad interjected.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: I warn the member for South Brisbane.
Ms BATES: But Mr Eltham has some experience in the arts. He was appointed by the previous government to review arts grants and he was actually paid for them. Notably, it was Mr Eltham who signed off on one of the most ridiculous arts programs in Queensland called the 'sexy knickers' display. Mr Deputy Speaker, you may ask what the 'sexy knickers' arts project was and where it toured. I certainly did not see it, but some would say that Mr Eltham would have been better off encouraging people to go stand outside Victoria's Secret for nothing.
In summation, I will also be writing to Madam Speaker and I will be referring the member for South Brisbane to the Ethics Committee on two things: first, when she said that I sacked the deputy director-general, which is completely and absolutely false; and, second, that I was in the House when the original speech was made. There is no defence against a liar.
Ms Trad: Mr Deputy Speaker, the minister called me a liar. I find that term unparliamentary and insulting and I ask that it be withdrawn.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Minister, will you withdraw that?
Ms BATES: I withdraw.
Question put—That the bill be now read a second time.
Motion agreed to.