Mr PEARSON (Essendon—Assistant Treasurer, Minister for Regulatory Reform, Minister for Government Services, Minister for Creative Industries)- I rise to update the house on our government’s support for our creative industries to recover from the damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic. Creativity is part of our identity. It is proudly in our Victorian DNA and central to our way of life, reputation, livability and economy. This sector in ordinary times contributes $34 billion a year to the state economy and employs more than 290 000 Victorians. During lockdown, music, film, literature and comedy have given comfort to many. Our creative practitioners moved to bring innovative world-class digital experiences to our homes. These industries are key to Victoria’s economic, social and cultural recovery, and we will support them to thrive and prosper in a COVID-safe way going forward. I am grateful to the former Minister for Creative Industries, who worked tirelessly to deliver $90 million to support the creative sector through this crisis. This includes $48 million to ensure the viability of arts and cultural icons such as the NGV, Arts Centre Melbourne and the Geelong Arts Centre; $19 million to the music industry; and $13 million to support almost 100 non-government organisations such as La Mama Theatre and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

We have made the country’s largest and most targeted investment in a sector which have helped keep our community together during this pandemic, unlike the federal government, who have repeatedly ignored their calls for support. We cannot afford to wake up at the end of this pandemic with no arts. The federal government needs to step up to save our creative industries and the thousands of jobs that exist within them.

For the Victorian economy to recover, our creative economy must recover too. Last week I met people who live and breathe creativity with the hardworking member for Macedon and in my own community of Essendon. At these meetings I felt the passion, spirit and ingenuity of local artists to drive a recovery for Victoria—positivity we have not witnessed in the negative contributions of those opposite or their colleagues in Canberra. We can and we will rebuild our creative state. I am so proud and honoured to be given the opportunity to work with the sector in recovery.