The importance of small arts organisations

Jock Webb writes: Re. “Brandis is wrong: small arts orgs deliver much greater bang for govt buck” (Friday). I live in a small town 0f 3500 people, 40km from a large regional centre of 35 000. We see in that centre a pretty frontier culture, ie. country music rules. However, we also see performances form outfits like Bell Shakespeare (Hamlet 5 stars) the Sydney Symphony (rare but useful). It is the small companies that give us excellence.  Our youth need exposure to these ideas. I have an ex-student who is a stage manager and another a cameraman… no symphony players yet. But where is the inspiration? It is the small regional companies and Bell. The rest are worthless.

Swings and roundabouts

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Turnbull’s task: reversing from an ideological dead end” (Friday). So Bernard Keane thinks that the return of Turnbull is quite different from the “Rudd-Gillard shenanigans”. While he makes some valid points, let’s recall what he said way back on 24 June 2010:

The working theory at least in these parts is that the popular Julia Gillard will be a far tougher opponent for Tony Abbott than the damaged Kevin Rudd would have been. That fact that Abbott’s brain appears to stop working whenever he’s in Gillard’s presence doesn’t exactly undermine that theory.

But all of Labor’s problems won’t vanish with the Rudds’ furniture from the Lodge. While the question was validly and increasingly asked about what Rudd stood for, the same question could be asked of the Federal Labor Party. It is increasingly suffering from the problem that NSW Labor has long suffered from — of not standing for anything except staying in power, of being too focussed on media management and risk-aversion rather than using power to achieve reform…

It’s a problem that may not cost Gillard the forthcoming election, especially against the deeply unpopular Abbott, but it is profound one that will continue to bedevil the party and leave it exposed to a fundamental voter cynicism about its motives.

Gillard has a chance to begin addressing this problem. As deputy prime minister she had a strong policy focus…

Sure, there are differences. But there are similarities. And one of the similarities is the commentators — not just Keane — wanting to take the Australian public along on the ideological honeymoon. Turnbull is the Prime Minister that many in the media, and the intelligentsia more broadly, desire. He is “socially progressive” and probably doesn’t use fax machines. But he has never had that much popular appeal.

Les Heimann writes: Can Malcolm Turnbull turf out the moribund culture of the ultra conservatives in his party? That, according to Bernard Keane, is now his task; one that he will certainly not succeed in accomplishing. The “ultra’s” in Australia, Canada and the USA (Republican tea party) play for keeps. It is not in their DNA to take prisoners; total victory is everything.

In Australia they are the largest group within the Liberal party and they are growing. Come the next election more will join their ranks. Turnbull they hate and Turnbull they will (again) destroy. Our new PM will be undermined, tricked and wedged at every turn and his life as a leader will be misery. Of course he is not a conviction politician so he shouldn’t have that much trouble accommodating the extremist views but he knows were he to do this in too blatant a manner his cut through with the punters will not even draw blood. Turnbull is a man already fatally wedged. However, he has a huge advantage in that his political opponent Shorten is also not a man of conviction and his record, his positioning and even his body language is utterly cringeworthily.

Shorten must go, and soon, if Labor is to succeed. Who though does Labor have to jump into the ring with Turnbull. Probably Albanese or Plibersek could do the job but how do they get there. The Rudd rule has made it almost impossible for Labor to sack a leader. I predict Turnbull will enjoy what is a dead cat bounce in the polls but then call a snap election that he will win and be pilloried in his next term. What goes around comes around.

The new guard

Adrian Jackson writes: Re. “Turnbull wields the knife – old guard shown the door” (yesterday). With women now ministers for two of the three federal core responsibilities under the constitution, Defence and Foreign Affairs, plus other important portfolios like Health, Small Business and Employment I would have thought that feminist organisations like the Women’s Electoral Lobby and Emily’s List would be jumping for joy but they remain silent. The only person from the left who praised these female appointments was a man, opposition leader Bill Shorten. The third core responsibility, Trade, is still with the very competent Andrew Robb, a man.