The recent announcement that the newly elected LNP government in Queensland will soon be scrapping the prestigious Queensland Premier’s Literary Award should come as no surprise to anyone but those guileless few still trying to sell us the Bronte girls as serious literature.
The LNP (the Liberal-National Coalition of laissez-faire urbanites and socialist - no sorry, I mean heavily-subsidised primary producers) is, after all, the new coalition of the people (according to the degraded line run like old Telstra broadband), and the Australian Labor Party that of the political elites so practiced in the arts of demagoguery that they cannot see past their bellies (or arses) to the corn supply. That is the new paradigm. No prizes for guessing who are the Gracchi brothers and who the new little Caesars.
Forget for a minute that it was John Gorton, arch conservative and advocate of the “all the way with LBJ” approach to matters on or around the 17th parallel, who way back in 1972 founded the Australian Film Commission, from which such flowers as “Rusty” Russell Crowe, Mel “Mad Eyes” Gibson and “Bouncing” Baz Luhrmann were later to bloom. Not to mention “Our Kate” Blanchett, but then she does not fall into any of these categories; she floats…..
Or, on the obverse, that it was the pronounced lefty in anything but what mattered most, Bob Hawke, who set in motion the corporatisation of “aunty” ABC.
Last year (2011) the Queensland Premier’s Award allotted almost $250,000 in state and federal revenue to 14 no doubt well-deserving and hard-working writers in as many fields of endeavour. It took just one change of government with no pronounced mandate regarding the arts (other than the usual grainy Photostat) to reverse 15 years of what some would call a job well done, others a waste of time.
And in a parliament with only one chamber since 1922, and the most overwhelming majority in that lone chamber's history (Labor managed to hold onto 7 seats in an 80-odd seat chamber).
Some would call that stultifying, others just a smoky room.
What it tells me, social democrat though I am and anarchist though I am about to sound, is to trust no patron, however large or small, whether of the people or (apparently) against them. You will soon enough find yourself dancing for drinks in dog-leg bars.
Writers should not live on stipend, inoculated to fate, the menial, the hard landing.
Work the long shift, the long haul, free the lobes, cure yourselves of sinecure.