The art of the insult. Greens Senator Scott Ludlam used a speech in the Senate last night to wage a blistering attack on Senator Ian Macdonald. Speaking on the report handed down from the inquiry into the government’s National Program for Excellence in the Arts, Ludlam called Macdonald “an individual who uniquely combines aggression with total cluelessness, unlike anybody else in this chamber that I am aware of”. Ludlam lambasted the Coalition, describing the the program as “an utterly debacular policy”, introducing the word to Hansard for the first time.

“If you want to know just how badly the government got it wrong, watch Senator Macdonald’s humiliating rant. Senator Lazarus was too polite to name him, but Senator Macdonald behaved like an unhinged and tantrum-prone five-year-old, in a way that reduced one witness to tears and forced the chair’s hand on a number of occasions. I do not use words as strongly as this against individuals very often in this place. I do not know what the Queensland LNP have on their minds.

“The entire arts community of this country were insulted, but they did put in a spirited defence of themselves and the institutions that they have helped create, over decades of establishing an arms-length, peer-reviewed Commonwealth funding body for arts body. It is not like there are hundreds and hundreds of millions of funds washing around for the arts community. The Free the Arts campaign and those from Feral Arts and others who played an informal convening role absolutely did the arts community proud.”

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Peter Fray

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