You can’t sit with us. We are often accused of being impolite, but even Ms Tips knows that uninviting someone from an event after they had kindly RSVPed is quite rude. Member for Higgins and parliamentary secretary to the Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer made quite the faux pas yesterday by calling Crikey arts correspondent Ben Eltham and informing him that he could not attend the arts forum that she would be holding with Minister for the Arts (that he likes) George Brandis in Prahran tomorrow morning. The event is billed as “an opportunity for Minister Brandis and me to receive your feedback on the Government’s policies in relation to the Arts sector and to update you on recent changes,” and Eltham signed up to hear what Brandis would have to say. But then O’Dwyer herself rang up our intrepid arts journo and asked him to stay away. “I got a call from Kelly herself saying ‘we’ve done a lot of these things, and we always ask for the media not to turn up because we want constituents to have their say without the media being in the room’. She did offer to put me in touch with Minister Brandis’ office, though.” Brandis has cut more than $100 million from the Australia Council and funneled it into a new National Program for Excellence in the Arts, but little information has been provided about who will get funding under the new program. When more than 60 members of the arts community met with politicians in Parliament House in June, Brandis and other members of the government were nowhere to be seen. The event invite is here, if any Crikey readers are in O’Dwyer’s electorate and want to let us know how it goes — but be warned, attendees are being screened by a staffer. Yay for democracy.

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Peter Fray

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