January 27, 2004


Gerard Henderson invites us to “examine the programs of the various taxpayer subsidised festivals, most recently, last year's Adelaide Festival of Ideas, Melbourne Writers' Festival and the Ideas at the Powerhouse in Brisbane”:

These occasions appear to have taken the format once prevalent at the ABC: that is, put on a forum where all members of the panel agree with everyone else and a highly self-indulgent ideological time is had by all.

In Adelaide a session on truth in public life featured Margo Kingston, Humphrey McQueen, Robert Manne, David Marr and Moira Rayner - with Phillip Adams presiding.

In Melbourne a so-called panel discussion of Robert Manne's edited collection Whitewash on Aboriginal history comprised Manne with Patrick Dodson and Malcolm Fraser.

It was much the same in Brisbane where the inaugural lecture on What happened to a tolerant Australia was delivered by Adams and the final one on War and Empire by Tariq Ali.

Who the hell goes to these things? Interesting to learn of the taxpayer subsidies involved, however; perhaps a Sydney Festival of Intolerance should be organised.

Posted by Tim Blair at January 27, 2004 06:43 AM

Who the hell goes to these things?

Insomniacs, Tim. Insomniacs.

BTW, I see that you're posting at 6:43 a.m. - a new record! (Unless you went to bed at 9:30 pm and just got up?)

Posted by: Alice at January 27, 2004 at 06:48 AM

Could we make it a national tour Tim? You Southerners get all the big intolerance thingy's. You lot sent Phil up to pollute Brisbane so now we get to have a bit of intolerance as well. Its only fair.

Posted by: Todd at January 27, 2004 at 07:15 AM

Not that it's any better around these parts... At the community college I attend here, a "forum" on the Iraq war last year was pretty much little more than an excuse to give Baghdad Jim McDermott 2 hours to rant and rave.

Posted by: Vexorg at January 27, 2004 at 07:53 AM

Come to West Texas and Eastern New Mexico, USA. We have many more interesting private sector festivals. Including.....

The Marfa Mystery Lights Festival, featuring the crowning of The Onion Queen. And...

The Roswell UFO Festival where you may encounter some of the Democratic candidates!

Posted by: Wallace at January 27, 2004 at 07:54 AM

I am not sure if this has been mentioned elsewhere - but the ABC had a program called "The Greatest Australian"
A panel of 'prominent australians' picked a list of nominees for the title of the greatest australian, which was then voted on by a studio audience.

The winner was Howard Florey (and a deserving one I may add), but some of the other nominees were hilarious:

Rupert Murdoch - I assume he was chucked in there for balance

Barry Humphries - he is amusing, but really - why not clive james instead? (who is smarter and funnier...)

Evonne Goolagong Cawley - any guesses as to why she got the gig ahead of say, Rod Laver?? hmmm

but my personal favourite - Michael leunig! hahahahaha.

Including him even for consideration is an insult to the others. Howard Florey - helped discover penicillin - lives saved - 50 million or so. Leunig - drew some cartoons with ducks attacking Howard - lives affected, bugger all...

Posted by: Paul at January 27, 2004 at 08:56 AM

Great Australians were nominated in categories, science, business, pop culture, sport, nation-building and arts. For an ABC program, the selections and cases put were rational and well argued - except for David Williamson's wank for Leunig (shitcanned eloquently by a young woman in the audience). Pru Goward defied the hairy-legged mob by naming Henry Parkes as our greatest nation-builder and the hottest professor chick ever on TV put the case splendidly for the developer of penicillin, Lord Howard Florey. Not to be ageist, Ms Goward's easier on the eye than ever.

Posted by: slatts at January 27, 2004 at 09:39 AM

Sorry, Slatts, but how could you have missed Peter Fitzsimons remarkable (ie, remarkably awful) speech nominating Evonne Cawley? Nothing but cliches, mixed metaphors, and poor grammar, from beginning to end. I wanted to write it down, it was so bad, but I'll probably have to wait until the rerun.
I didn't mind the Leunig nomination so much - but I did get mightily pissed off by the criticism put forward by the young woman in the audience. She basically said she expected the arts to be more elitist, and not found in a (shock! horror!) popular medium like the newspaper. How snobby can you get?

Posted by: TimT at January 27, 2004 at 10:00 AM

Good to see it's not just the BBC that's institutionally socialist.

Maybe you could all turn up wearing teashirts with "Not From MY wallet" to these 'events'?

Posted by: Rob Read at January 27, 2004 at 10:01 AM

We'll wear those teashirts under our dinner jackets.

Posted by: tim at January 27, 2004 at 10:07 AM

I went to the Brisbane one, but was thrown out for making "repeated drunken interjections".
(They also took exception to my Celebrate Diversity t-shirt whick features numerous handsome hand-guns.
You should have seen some of the gerbils who were there seriously; I sometimes wonder if I am a member of the same species.

Posted by: Habib at January 27, 2004 at 10:16 AM

On 'The Greatest Australian' the audience was polled as to who they thought it should be. Any guesses?

Gough Whitlam. Just shows what fuckwits sit in ABC audiences.

Posted by: Mike Hunt at January 27, 2004 at 10:22 AM

The category of 'nation building' is a bit of a gimme for 'the father of federation' Mr Parkes. I was amused that the SMH described Florey as winning out against 'better known' people such as Parkes! If you asked most Australians who Parkes was, you would get a blank stare. Even dropping the father of federation bit would be unlikely to help. It is an unfortunate fact that most can name the first US president, but not the first prime minister. Then again, general disinterest in politics has meant that the real loonies have never been able to get a toehold here compared to some places overseas.

Posted by: Paul at January 27, 2004 at 10:30 AM

Concerning Aunties Greatest Australians-
First was amazed that they even included science in the categories - and yes the case for Florey was put very well. As was Prue's case for Parkes.
In my book these were the only two that could be taken seriously. Humphries and Loonig - SHEESH!
But to me the crowning piece of the evening was the finale where schoolmarm Doogie pulls one out of the hat re an audience poll. And guess what the (ABC invited?) audience voted Goofus Witless as the Greatest Australian. Surprise Surprise!
They just had to get this bastard into it didn't they?
So Tim how about doing a stir to have the ABC declare the complete results of the poll so we can at least see whether it was fair dinkum or just another Aunty scam so they could get their God into the show.

Posted by: lawrie at January 27, 2004 at 10:38 AM

Isn't it heartwarming to see how many of our National Treasures participated in these talkfests. And those that didn't, were nominated anyway eg Gough Whitlam.

By the way, there is a pecking order for these National Treasures: Gough should be addressed as Highly Beloved National Treasure; and Malcom as Dearly Beloved National Treasure; the rest are just plain or common National Treasures.

I'm waiting for Peter Fitzsimons to be nominated as an N.T.

Posted by: freddyboy at January 27, 2004 at 10:41 AM

why worry - these people have nothing better to do

they have never been productive and never will be, so they hold endless series of gabfests at which they nod at each other in eternal agreement about any subject that takes their obsessive fancy; while building elitist castles in the air in which they ensconce themselves while reaffirming to each other why they are a far superior species to those outside their tiny world

just a shame that the fact they have never been productive means the vast majority pay their not inconsiderable bills

Posted by: ilibcc at January 27, 2004 at 11:22 AM

At least the West Australian Festival of Perth is non-political and completely objective - a leading light of the "Literature" section is that well-known man of letters and peace, Brigadier Jerry Adams.

Posted by: sue at January 27, 2004 at 01:26 PM

that's three letters: I, R and A; assuming you mean Gerry

Posted by: ilibcc at January 27, 2004 at 03:37 PM

Yes, I did mean Gerry, sorry

Posted by: sue at January 27, 2004 at 08:53 PM

Yes, I did mean Gerry, sorry

Posted by: sue at January 27, 2004 at 08:53 PM