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Things you didn’t know about Mitch

Arts & Culture

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Victorian Senator Mitchell “Mitch” Fifield is the brand new Federal Arts Minister, replacing the hugely unpopular Senator George Brandis, who stripped $105 million in arts funding from the Australia Council.

Fifield was appointed Arts Minister yesterday by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who also made him the Minister for Communications as well as the Minister assisting the PM for digital government.

Here, The Daily Review serves up a few facts you may not know about the new Arts Minister:

1: He once threw a reference to Spandau Ballet into a debate about Human Services IT systems on Sky News AM agenda.

2: He has defended Brandis’s much-criticised “National Program for Excellence in the Arts” and said the Senate Inquiry initiated by the Greens and the ALP was absurd given the program had not begun.

3: He was an ambassador for the not-for-profit school music organisation The Song Room and was an advisory board member for the Yachad Accelerated Learning Project, having been a Yachad Scholar particularly interested in Israeli educational approaches that use music, sport and other informal  methods to assist children at risk.

4: In an article he wrote for in 2009 about protectionism of Australian book publishers, he wrote: “Australia’s creative industry has again shown its canny ability to frame a debate”.

“The recent dispute over lifting restrictions on parallel book importation has been cast as a classic good versus evil battle. (Louise) Adler recently used a book launch at Parliament House to lecture the Prime Minister about the need to protect her industry. In doing so, she used the typical shop-worn tactics of all protectionists — the need to protect Aussie jobs — but also the protectionist’s last retreat: the need to protect Australian ‘cultural identity’ from being undermined by obviously culturally inferior foreigners,” he wrote.

5: In a speech in the Senate in 2006 extolling the achievements of The Song Room, he called for greater music education in schools. “Music is an important part of life. There is no better, more natural alterer of mood than music. Filmmakers realise this. That is why they put such effort into the scores of movies. They know that through the musical score they can affect — they can alter – the mood of the viewer,” he said.

6: He gave a speech in 2004 at AMCI in Melbourne marking the death of film director Tim Burstall.

“As a six-year-old child living in the suburbs of Adelaide in the mid-’70s,I experienced my first conscious feelings of curiosity, naughtiness and guilt thanks to Tim Burstall. Like many Australians now in their mid-30s I have memories of my parents sending me to bed on a Sunday night just before Alvin Purple screened,” he said.

This article was first published on The Daily Review.


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