The many bodies administering Australian arts activity were incorporated within the Australia Council, established in 1973 by the Whitlam Labor Government to oversee Commonwealth arts policy under the direction of H.C. Nugget Coombs. This article takes the establishment of the Australia Council as a starting point in tracing changing attitudes towards the practices and funding of popular music in Australia and accompanying policy discourses. This includes consideration of how funding models reinforce understandings of high and low art forms, the cultural / creative industries debates, and their effects upon local popular music policy. This article discusses the history of local music content debates as a central instrument of popular music policy and examines the implications for cultural nationalism in light of a recent series of media and cultural reports into industries and funding bodies. In documenting a broad shift from cultural to industrial policy narratives, the article examines a central question: What does the national now mean in contemporary music and the rapid evolution of digital media technologies?