Celebrating Illawarra's art culture (23/03/2012)

red_point_art.jpgRed Point Artists’ Association: Members Exhibition opening speech (10/03/2012)

I am pleased to be back here in Port Kembla with the Red Point Artists. The name ‘Red Point’ reminds us that the place existed before it was a port and an industrial hub. Indeed, Red Point was the name given to this place by the first Europeans as they sailed up the coast towards Botany Bay. It reminds us that this place has a rich history, which predates European settlement. A history of the Wadi Wadi people, who are the traditional owners of the land and to whom we pay our respects today.

I support the work of Red Point and the arts community in my electorate of Throsby for two reasons.

The first is because our art and cultural activity is an expression of who we are and what we value; what we celebrate and what we denigrate. In short, our art and culture is a mirror that we hold up to ourselves.

The second related point is about economics and the development of this region. Of necessity, we now need to plan and renew the economic base of the region. Manufacturing must be a part of that future because a region that makes stuff knows stuff. But the stuff we make has, and will continue to change. So too will the growth in the services sector.

One pathway for the region is to become a hub for high skill, high wage employment. Leveraging off the natural beauty of the landscape, our proximity to Sydney and the fact that we have the largest number of ICT graduates of any university in the country. It can be an important part of our future economic base of we get the fundamentals right.

You may ask, why am I talking about this to a gathering of artists? The answer is simple. The high skilled, high wage earning workforce and the industries and businesses they work in are highly mobile. They live in an area because of what it has to offer. It has to be connected, interesting and fun.

The Illawarra has plenty to offer. We have natural beauty. We have the National Broadband Network on its way. What we need to build on is a vibrant cultural, artistic and hospitality sector which caters to people’s interests and needs when they aren’t working.

That is why I am here today to support the tremendous efforts of the Red Point Artists who work hard to enrich the cultural and artistic community of the Illawarra and make it, not just an area for industry, but also an area of beauty and enjoyment of which we can all be proud.

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