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If it’s good enough for the Arts, is it good enough for Education?

“Arts Minister George Brandis has defended moves to block government funding for organisations that unreasonably refuse corporate sponsorship following the “preposterously unreasonable” termination of Transfield’s sponsorship of the Sydney Biennale.

“Senator Brandis also indicated that any ”commercially sound” company, including tobacco companies, should not be ruled out for arts sponsorship.

“Senator Brandis has written to the Australia Council asking it to develop a policy that would deny funding to events or artists that refuse private sponsorship after the Biennale board severed ties with Transfield over its involvement in processing asylum seekers offshore.

“Senator Brandis said on Friday that while it was reasonable for arts companies or festivals to reject corporate funding if they had concerns about a sponsor’s financial credentials, it was not reasonable for them to refuse sponsorship on political grounds.”

The Sydney Morning Herald, March 14th 2014

Scene – A Primary School. The School Council is meeting.

Principal – Good evening, before we deal with the other items on our agenda, I’d like to introduce Mr Point who’s a representative from the Federal Government whose here to talk to us about our recent grant for the new multipurpose centre. Mr Point over to you.

Point – Thanks. Well, it’s clear you don’t need any money from us, so we’re not going to give you the grant.

Mr Wall – What?

Point – You refused a sponsorship deal. And it’s not the first time. We’ve checked your records.

Mr Wall – Is this about our refusal to let an alcohol company name the multipurpose centre?

Point – They’re the ones who brought it to out attention, but we have discovered that there were a number of others as well.

Mrs Mitchell – But we didn’t feel it appropriate to have what’s essentially alcohol advertising in a primary school.

Point – Our new guidelines are quite clear. No refusal of funding on political grounds.

Mr Wall – But an alcohol company? In a primary school?

Point – Why not? If it’s good enough for the Australian Cricket Team…

Mrs Mitchell – But we’re a primary school!

Point – So?

Mrs Mitchell – We have young children!

Point – I am aware of what a primary school does. Do you think I’m stupid?

Mr Jones – So, if we take the money from them, does that mean we still get the Federal Grant.

Point – Well, I’d like to say yes, but like I said, you’ve rejected funding from a few other companies as well.

Mr Jones – Such as?

Point – Several fast food chains allege that you wouldn’t allow them to place signs in the canteen or to pay for billboards in your car park.

Mr Wall – That’s a healthy eating decision, that’s hardly political.

Point – Healthy eating not political? How do you figure that?

Mrs Mitchell – So if we allow the billboards and signs and the alcohol company, do we receive the funding?

Point – That’s a good start. But I’m afraid that the fast food companies would require teachers to point out that it’s easier and cheaper just get to takeaway whenever they hold a cooking class. And Sanmonto have expressed concern that they’ve been excluded your garden project with the Grade 5’s. And Skittish Tobacco have complained that you refused to meet with them.

Principal – But they’re a tobacco company. They’re not even allowed to advertise.

Point – They didn’t want to advertise, they just wanted to run a health campaign.

Mrs Mitchell – On what?

Point – On the advantages of having role models amongst your peers whose behaviour is worth copying no matter what your parents say.

Mrs Mitchell – That’s it? If all do all that, will we still get the funding? We don’t have to give space to the local brothel?

Point – Have they asked?

Mrs Mitchell – Of course not!

Point – Yes, if you do all that, we won’t stop the funding. But keep in mind for future reference that no business should be refused any opportunity for purely political reasons.

Principal – Well, that’s a great relief. If nobody has any questions we’ll move on to our assistant principal who has an update on concerns that the Australian Curriculum has become too political.


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