Art Monthly has an audited circulation of 5000 copies. The girl was photographed by her mother. The mother has no regrets, neither does her daughter. So far, so much storm in a teacup you’d think. But there is something disturbing in the vigour with which the Prime Minister attacks the issue of this so-called child exploitation. As The Australian reports this morning:

The Rudd Government will ask the Australia Council to develop a set of protocols to cover the representation of children in art, after a taxpayer-funded magazine put a picture of a nude six-year-old girl on its cover to protest at the Bill Henson dispute.

The review, which would consult members of the arts sector and the general community, was confirmed by a government spokesman yesterday, as politicians led by Kevin Rudd heaped condemnation on this month’s Art Monthly Australia magazine.

It seems that when it comes to, let’s see, saving the planet, we can prevaricate and quibble, but when it comes to cracking down on the apparent exploitation of a child by her mother in a magazine no-one reads, we can turn on a dime.

A few points of our own: No child was harmed in the production of that image and nudity does not equate to s-xualisation. That said, the repression of art and expression by representatives of the “general community” risks crushing precious liberties to the twisted views of zealots. If only our prime minister wasn’t one of them.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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