May 26, 2014

Tory takeover of Abbott’s $600,000 literary prize

Conservative commentators and a former Liberal MP have been picked to judge the country's richest literary awards. And not everyone's happy with it.

Cathy Alexander — Freelance journalist and PhD candidate in politics at the University of Melbourne

Cathy Alexander

Freelance journalist and PhD candidate in politics at the University of Melbourne

There is unrest in literary circles after the Abbott government selected conservative luminaries Gerard Henderson and Peter Coleman to judge the $600,000 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.

After months of delay the government quietly released the judging panel on Friday night. It’s a clean sweep; not one of last year’s judges has been kept on. Instead, as foreshadowed by Crikey in March, the government has selected some right-leaning judges whose views are often in accord with the Coalition.

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29 thoughts on “Tory takeover of Abbott’s $600,000 literary prize

  1. klewso

    Abbott is delivering on his threat, to deliver “adulterated government”?

  2. Electric Lardyland

    Interesting choice that: getting people who prefer their facts to be fiction, to judge the non-fiction category.

  3. Coaltopia

    I predict Plimer and “Uncle Bob” Carter will release a new book on turning the rivers inland and it’ll win in a clean-sweep.

  4. Cathy Alexander

    Funny you should mention that #3. Plimer’s latest book comes out Friday

    … so not eligible (books must come out by Dec 31, 2013)

  5. Coaltopia

    lol – and the premise is hilarious when you cross-reference, say, Thailand: “Thailand’s deteriorating economy is driven significantly by its fossil fuel dependence” – Nafeez Ahmed, Guardian.

  6. Interrobanging On

    It was a little curious why the PMLA was left standing in the carnage of much of what was good or interesting.

    The probability it is seen as a tool in their culture wars gives the decision some sense. Stack the judges and get some ‘good’ books out there.

    The imperative to reward entitled Liberal Mates is strong too – this is a good opportunity.

    Or maybe Hockey is up for the fiction award for the ‘budget emergency’, so they are keeping it on for him?

  7. klewso

    It was either that or burning some?

  8. Bort

    It’s in line with policies that have coal mining execs working out environmental policies. No surprises government we were promised and I’m not surprised.

  9. Cathy Alexander

    Good point Interrobanging On – the govt could have canned these awards, as Campbell Newman did with the Qld Premier’s literary awards. The former PMLA judges I spoke to were all quite pleased that the awards were continuing, even if some had concerns about the judges. And no, the govt doesn’t seemed to have shrunk the prize pool, as some forecast.

  10. Scott

    Really, is this what we are getting upset about now.

    Oh no! The PM has decided to change the judges for his departments literary rewards! The Horror!

    And when Rudd stacked the panel wih left wingers initially, did anyone really complain?

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