“Why don’t you just merge the [conservative] parties like they did in Queensland?”
“I can tell you in two words: Campbell Newman.”
Brisbane theatre-goers won’t hear that innocuous line in Jonathan Biggins’ (fairly pedestrian) play Australia Day. The Queensland Theatre Company show has been amended over, we can only assume, concerns about what Newman and state government backers might think.
This isn’t state censorship; the government had nothing to do with it. “I have a thick skin and a well-developed sense of humour,” the Premier told The Courier-Mail.
It’s not even self-censorship on behalf of the company; it seems while the QTC board heard complaints there was no direction from the board to change it.
What’s at play is something more insidious: a fear and loathing in Queensland that has artists fearing reprisal from a government that has shown little appreciation for artistic pursuit. Savage budget cuts have slashed programs, and artists still worry where the axe might fall next.
Art is the antidote to oppression. What a worry these theatremakers didn’t think they could speak freely.