Meet Tony Burke
Minister for the Arts
One time roadie
Piano student


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Now that the Labor Government has made good on funding the National Cultural Policy we thought it would be the perfect time to get to know the person behind the arts portfolio. So we caught up with the man charged with being the country's cultural caretaker.



CF: What was your first full time job?



Tony: I was a lugger: When uni bands played I was one of the people who helped them load and unload their trucks.

I did unload and reload the truck for Mental as Anything once.



CF: What is your favourite professional achievement?


Tony: When you resolve the issue that no one thought you could. Even your friends admire your optimism, but honestly don’t think you have a chance.


And in the last year we have done that with the long term conflict on creating the world’s largest network of marine parks after 20 years, ending the wars in Tasmania’s forests after 30 years and finalising the Murray-Darling Basin Plan after more than a century.



CF: Where were you born and where have you lived?


Tony: I live in one of the most multicultural parts of Sydney in the Canterbury area. There is a 2km radius that I have lived inside all my life with a local community that has travelled from every corner of the world.



CF: What do you admire most about artists, creatives or performers?


Tony: In my job you want to improve people’s lives and affect how they feel. In my line of work if you get every detail right, you can do that for people but it takes months and years. Actors can take us through every emotion, musicians can change how we feel by the third bar and visual artists can reach us at the first glance. I will never stop admiring that.



CF: What would you be lost without?


Tony: Music. I still have weekly piano lessons, I travel with a guitar and my ipod is my most prized possession.



CF: What do you see on the horizon as the next challenge for the Arts?


Tony: Making sure Australian content still cuts through on the new platforms. The old Australian content quotas are irrelevant to most of the new platforms, but we need to make sure that our voices, pictures and music don’t start to fade.