What’s new in the Creative Australia Bill 2023

The Creative Australia Bill 2023 is now making its way through Federal Parliament, giving effect to the major initiatives set out in the national cultural policy, Revive.

Here are some of the key points:

  • There will be a ‘refreshed’ and expanded Australia Council Board which will oversee the new agency Creative Australia. The Board will have 14 members (up from 12) appointed by the Minister for the Arts. Terms will be extended to four years with the sum of terms not exceeding nine years.
  • The Bill establishes two of the four new bodies announced in Revive, including Music Australia and Creative Workplaces (the First Nations led body and Writers Australia will be established later).
  • The Music Australia Council will provide strategic advice and guidance to the Australia Council Board, comprised of the Creative Australia CEO as chair and eight other members, appointed by the Minister.
  • The Creative Workplaces Council will have a Chair (not the Creative Australia CEO) and six other members, appointed by the Minister.
  • Creative Australia’s functions in the Bill remain the same as those of the Australia Council Act 2013, and adds two additional objectives:  to encourage, facilitate and recognise public sector, private sector, philanthropic and commercial support for, and investment in, the arts; and, to promote fair, safe and respectful workplaces for Australian artists and those employed or engaged in Australian arts practice.
  • The Bill preserves the principle of ‘arms-length’ funding decisions, in that ‘the Minister must not give a direction in relation to the making of a decision by Creative Australia, in a particular case, relating to the provision of support.’

A second Bill being considered alongside the main Bill covers consequential amendments and transitional arrangements, including clarification that Australia Council employees will continue under the new agency on the same terms and conditions of employment.  It also enables the Minister to make appointments to the Board and Music Australia and Creative Workplaces councils without consulting the Chair in setting up the new arrangements.

The new arrangements are due to commence from 1 July 2023, subject to passage of the legislation.

The Shadow Minister for the Arts, Paul Fletcher, told Parliament  that the Opposition would support the Bills.

Update: The Creative Australia Bill 2023 passed the House of Representatives on Thursday 1 June and will now be considered in the Senate when it sits again from 13 June.

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