Tim Blair


New Criterion



Sunday, February 01, 2004
IT'S BEEN A DISMAL SUNDAY MORNING in the commune, and it has something to do with economics.

In the Pre-Schoolers' Background Briefing sandbox the bucolic socialists of the weekday rural program have been lamenting the lessons of their Grow Your Own Cotton soap opera.

I won't burden you with the details, but imagine you try to run a cotton-growing business the way the Greens and the Democrats would like to run the entire economy. That is, you adopt any old greener alternative going, dang the cost. Then you're priced out of the market, even the Gowings trendy market.

But they don't conclude their on-air whinge with any self-criticism, or a resolution to reform policy or think straighter. Instead the problem is "human nature", according to the straw-chewing Alicia Brown.

And every communard knows what it is that corrupts human nature.

It starts with Ca... and ends with ...ism.

No sooner have the radio rustics departed than we find ourselves assaulted by the whining of another bunch of special pleaders, as Julie Copland waves the banner of Art and helps Ms Robin Nevin promote her Australia Day demand for more money for the Arts.

She means more money should be taken from taxpayers on low to middle incomes so those - mostly higher-income earners - who want to see her plays can get cheaper tickets. And so that actors, playwrights, theatrical tea-ladies etc can have steady employment, without ever having to chase a vulgar audience again.

Ms Nevin is convinced the obscene dole schemes for our artists need enhancing because she has seen talent going overseas. As you would, and they will continue to do if they're good enough.

She has heard Oz actors learning foreign accents to enhance their prospects. I thought that was what actors did.

Like some agricultural misery-guts, Nevin sees a collapse in the artistic enterprise ahead of us, but offers no evidence apart from anecdote.

How can the communards of Radio National be critical of these self-seeking raiders of the cashbox, when they claim the same privilege for their own occupation of Radio National's pulpit?

One of the artistic products Ms Nevin is using tax-payer's money on is Katherine Thompson's new play, "Harbour". It's about the confrontation between the Maritime Union of Australia and Patrick Stevedores.

Ms Thompson has researched her historical topic thoroughly be interviewing union officials and members.

I haven't seen "Harbour", but given the nature of Auntie's politics, Ms Nevin's politics and what Ms Thompson says I make one confident prediction:

The boss of Patrick, who broke the MUA's throttling grip on our waterfront, who made wharfies even richer than they were before while making the rest of us and himself richer too, that is Mr Chris Corrigan, will play no positive role in Ms Thompson's play whatsoever.

That's the trouble with our politicised artists. Their dramatic truths are as partial as the communards' commentary.