Music industry welcomes new minister Paul Fletcher
The music and communications sectors have welcomed the appointment of Paul Fletcher as the new federal minister of communications, cybersafety and the arts in the Scott Morrison government.
Fletcher is better known for his interest in the communications field, and served under former communications ministers Richard Alston and Malcolm Turnbull.
He worked at Optus as head of regulatory affairs, established a consulting firm serving the communications sector and wrote a book about broadband
He is not well known in the arts and music sector.
But Michael Smellie, chair of Music Australia, says that a good start for Fletcher would be to work on the results of the recent parliamentary inquiry on music.
“It would be a real positive if he picks that up to start a conversation with the music industry.”
Smellie also hopes that Fletcher goes ahead with fostering a peak music body – made up of associations from various sectors of the industry – which the government can consult on a regular basis to create policy.
“The different sectors have their own agendas and only come together on specific issues.
“But it is imperative the government receives consistent and authoritative advice, the way other industries deal with government.”
The idea of such a body was mooted by Peter Garrett, the most clued-on arts minister to date, and recommended by both ARIA and APRA AMCOS during the government inquiry.
APRAAMCOS tweeted Monday, May 27: “Congratulations to @PaulFletcherMP as the new arts minister in the Morrison Government.
“We look forward to working with you on the delivery of the music policy and thank your predecessor @SenatorFifield on his years of service to the portfolio.”
Commercial Radio Australia said: “We enjoyed working with the new minister when he was the parliamentary secretary to Malcolm Turnbull in 2015 and look forward to working closely with him once again.”
Its CEO Joan Warner said issues for discussion would include “the regulatory inequalities that exist between commercial radio and the digital platforms … stronger protections for the removal of copyright infringing material… (and) government support to enable regional broadcasters to transition to digital broadcasting.”
Free TV Australia CEO, Bridget Fair, in her welcome statement, gave the music industry insight to his style:
“Minister Fletcher’s thoughtful and considered approach to policy development will stand us all in good stead and Free TV looks forward to working closely with him in the years ahead on the important issues facing the broadcasting industry.”
Live Performance Australia welcomed the appointment.
“We look forward to working with the Minister on policies that promote the growth of our vibrant and dynamic live performance industry,” said LPA Chief Executive, Evelyn Richardson.
“As the Minister noted on his appointment, Australia’s performers and creative artists are world renowned and make a profound contribution to our national identity.”
Former minister for arts Mitch Fifield, heading off to New York in an ambassador role, will be remembered as a good arts minister but not a great one.
He took on the role facing an extremely hostile and fractured arts sector which had faced funding cuts under his predecessor George Brandis, and spent most of his tenure trying to steady the boat.
But he leaves behind for the music industry a commitment of $30.9 million in new funding over four years.
These include $22.5 million over four years for the Live Music Australia initiative to help venues upgrade and employ musicians, $2.1 million to mentor women, $2.7 million for indigenous musicians, an expansion of Sounds Australia’s role and more funding for the Live Music Office and Support Act.