Campbell Newman Slammed For Axing Literary Awards

Queensland’s “Smart State” project gives us Northerners the pride of knowing our state has more to offer than just tropical weather and sensational bananas. The Smart State program was about crystallising Queensland’s future through a $120 million investment in people, ideas and partnerships driving creativity and innovation – an inspiring initiative and an “up yours” to anyone who still thinks of Brisbane as a “small country town”. Unfortunately Campbell Newman is messing with our ability to be smug jerks after scrapping the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards as one of his first cost-cutting moves as newly elected Queensland Premier.

The Premier released a statement saying, “The Queensland government has decided not to proceed with the in 2012 which will save Queensland taxpayers $244,475, not including the cost of resourcing the awards. The government would like to acknowledge all the sponsors, judges, stakeholders, entrants and winners for their valued contribution to the program to date.”

The announcement has triggered a furore from the local arts sector, partly because the Literary Awards have been around since 1999 and is acknowledged as a given on the annual Arts calendar, partly because of the role it plays in recognising and nurturing exceptional local storytelling, and partly because (from a more pragmatic perspective) $244,475 (most of which is dispensed to writers as awards) won’t make any kind of significant dent in the state budget anyway.

Angry Queensland citizens have been protesting the decision, with a Petition calling for the Awards to be reinstated, and a litany of social media clamour:

Stuart Glover, a University of Queensland writing lecturer, wrote an angry blog post, concluding with: “Just to clarify, while i am a member of the Literature Board of the Australia Council, this doesn’t officially represent the views of the Board. I might say though, that all the inidvidual [sic] Board members are more than a bit fucked off.”

Now protesters have to wait and see how the Premier will respond. Surely, in this early stage of his reign it’s unlikely Newman will backpedal on any decisions lest he be deemed a fickle wuss-bag. The big question is, what will be the next state-funded initiative to get the axe? Better be smart about your next move, Premier…

Title Image by Chris Hyde via Getty