Despite the General Manager’s disinclination to address the issues I raised in my earlier correspondence to Council there remain a series of questions I wish to put on the record and specifically to you as aldermen, the elected representative, in your capacity as the ‘default trustees‘ for the QVMAG.

The General Manager has made a number of assertions and presumably relying upon the provisions of SECTION 62 of the Local Govt. Act, namely that he has the authority “to manage all assets and human resources of the Council and to do anything necessary or convenient to affect such purpose.” I believe that he now makes assertions that are contestable and that should be tested.

Question 1.
Context: The General Manager has advised me that, “Trustees to manage the QVMAG could only occur if the Council transferred all its QVMAG assets to such trustees. Failing this occurring, all QVMAG assets fall under the authority of the General Manager.” He does not say who has provided this advice nor, apparently, does he accept that it is what it is “advice and only advice”. I have received alternative advice that suggests that there is a range of options open to Council to establish a purposeful standalone entity to govern and manage the QVMAG. That is, something Council determined that it wished to do August 2015.

• Have you as aldermen in your roles as community representatives and the ‘default trustees’ tested the advice that has apparently been provided to you by the General Manager under the provisions of SECTION 65 of the Local Govt Act?
• Have you as aldermen in your ‘trusteeship’ roles sought independent advice in regard to these roles given all that is at risk and at stake?
• Have you as aldermen in your ‘trusteeship’ roles been given direct access to the advice the General Manager apparently relies upon under SECTIONS 65 & 62 of the Local Govt. Act?

Question 2.
Context: There is no longer any real doubt in Tasmania in regard to ‘cultural tourism’ and the value it represents in regard to employment and income opportunities for communities across the State. The TMAG, MONA and the many ‘musingplaces’ across Tasmania have demonstrated that there is almost no part of local economies that cultural tourism doesn’t impact upon – and it importance.

• Have you as aldermen considered cultural tourism’s impact upon and the importance to the Tamar region, and Launceston specifically, and in an ongoing way, to the economic, social and cultural wellbeing of your constituencies?
• If you have either individually or collectively done so, what form has it taken and how has it manifested itself in the ‘policy settings’ you as aldermen have put in place and/or championed?
• Indeed, how often, when and in what context have you as aldermen and default trustees made determinations that have been acted upon, and are there to be acted upon, in accord with Council’s purpose – namely, to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the community; to represent the interests of the community; to provide for the peace, order and good government of the municipal area?

Question 3.
Context: There is some evidence, albeit scant, that the General Manager is developing “Cultural Strategy” and that this is taking place in virtual isolation from the ‘constituency’. There is little doubt that such an exercise is significant, relevant and timely. Moreover Launceston and the Tamar region arguably exists within a ‘cultural reality’ that is distinct in both a Tasmanian and national context.

• Have you as aldermen been involved in developing the brief for the consultant/s(?) and if so to what extent and at what point?
• Has there been a ‘unit’ of some kind established and if so what is its specific purpose and objectives and what personnel have been employed from within what budget? Moreover, what are the duty statements for personnel thus far engaged?
• Have you as aldermen either provided or endorsed a project budget for this initiative?
• When and how is it intended that there will be community consultation given that it is Launceston’s ‘communities cultures’ that are the subject of any research involved and them who will be funding the process?
• When did the process commence and when is it due to be completed?
• If any of the information relative to the questions above are confidential, why would that be?

Question 4.
Context: There is increasing evidence that corporations, organisations, institutions, etc. are coming under closer scrutiny and especially so in regard to their governance and management. Nationally and intrastate most recently Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum and the Australian Olympic Committee stand out. Likewise the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery’s governance and management won the critical attention of Tasmania’s Auditor General and this has brought about major changes in that institution’s personnel, operation and performance. It is clear that past ‘bureaucratic elasticities’ abided in these quasi ‘public’ organisations isn’t being tolerated in the ways it has been in the past.

• Have you as aldermen initiated any kind reporting protocols to enable you to effectively review the QVMAG as a component of Council’s operation given the value/s of, and the nature of, its collections and the significance of the QVMAG’s recurrent expenditures?
• Are you as aldermen completely satisfied that QVMAG operation is fulfilling its strategic purpose and has been adequately resourced to succeed as vital cultural institution with ‘social license’ to deliver the social, cultural and ‘trickle down’ fiscal dividends it has the potential to do?
• Are you as aldermen completely satisfied that the QVMAG’s metrics reflect the appropriate outcomes for such an institution in a 21st C context given the levels of public investment in it over an extended period?

Reference links
1. Auditor Generals report March 2015 …
2. MERCURY: Auditor-General calls on Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery to lift its game … 1
3. QVMAG Community of Ownership & Interest …
4. Local Govt. purpose …
5. Australian Olympic Committee told to overhaul culture following review …
Ray Norman