Significant restructure to the Department of Communications and the Arts

7 December, 2019

The Australian Writers’ Guild is deeply concerned that the federal government has announced a restructure, abolishing the current Department of Communications and the Arts and rolling it into the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s justification for the public service overhaul is to ‘bust bureaucratic congestion’.

The arts community is dismayed that their industry continues to be devalued and disregarded. Annually, the industry generates $111.7 billion of economic activity.

Department of Communications and the Arts Secretary Mike Mrdak will not be continuing in his role and was not consulted on any changes to the structure or operations of his department. This is an abrupt and unceremonious end to a 32-year career.

Emma McDonald, senior adviser to the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher, today confirmed to the AWG that neither the minister’s title nor his portfolio has changed in the wake of the announcement.

AWG President Shane Brennan plans to continue conversations with Paul Fletcher early in 2020, in relation to the screen industry’s regulatory framework and quotas.

Mr Brennan said the increasing demand for content by streaming networks around the world presented an amazing opportunity for the Australian film and television industry. 'But taking on the world begins at home,' said Mr Brennan. 'The industry’s vast potential to become a genuine content provider to the world will be lost if the government doesn’t lend us the support we so urgently need'. 

It remains to be seen what effect this departmental restructure will have in practical terms for the arts community. It is clear however that this decision represents a lack of respect and appreciation for the arts in this country, which is deeply concerning. 

The AWG encourages members to contact both your government and opposition members in response to this announcement and state your case. Click here to contact your member.

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