I normally reserve ranting for Ross's Rant, but as this is a literary issue and I normally use this blog for literary-related matters, the rant is landing right here.
First up, let me make a couple of things very clear from the outset. No, I do not live in Queensland. No, I have not won any major literary awards and nor do I expect to.
With the recent election of a new Liberal National Party government in Queensland, among the first actions of new premier Campbell Newman is scrapping the annual Queensland Premier's Literary Awards.
This is such a big saving isn't it. Queensland would probably save more money just by dumping a politician. Literally hundreds of millions of dollars are being thrown around at other things (just read the news if you don't believe me) but getting rid of the literary awards is such a major cost saving. What a load of bollocks.
Here's a thought - aren't we supposed to foster things that make money? And doesn't sale of books, just as sale of any other merchandise, add to economic activity? It does. As does publication of said books, printing, transport etc etc. And literary awards such as these foster development in what is actually overall a quite poorly paid endeavour to begin with. But Campbell baby thinks it is much better to just crap in the face of writers everywhere, not just in Queensland, by saying 'screw you, not interested'.
A couple of hundred thousand may sound a lot on the face of it, but take a moment to look at the actual state income and it is so small as to be utterly insignificant.
The Premier's statements also note that the savings go beyond the awards and include the cost of resourcing the awards. Which is just pollie-speak for 'let's sack some public servants'. And inevitably, any cutting of resources from Arts Queensland would have an impact wider than just dumping the awards, just as any such cost cuts would do in any jurisdiction.
Meanwhile, what's the betting that something life-saving like the Association of Retired LNP Purveyors of Buttscratchers gets handouts of more than that? Or some other cronies.
Meanwhile, the Brisbane Lord Mayor has just announced the grand new plan to put libraries ahead of bookshops. http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/author-author-quirks-call-for-scribes-20120329-1w0fj.html
Now on the surface, it sounds good, doesn't it, sending more people to libraries. Me, I love libraries. At least libraries that have lots of lovely books. However the specific focus of this act of Mayor Quirk is to remove activities from bookshops.
Hold on a moment there, Quirky-boy. Why does a bookshop have any function or encourage visiting? To get punters in to buy stuff. But having just admitted there has been a problem with bookshops closing, His Lordship's answer is to deliberately remove yet more business opportunities for the poor old bookseller. And with the demise of Borders etc, those bookshops being damaged are the smaller, independent booksellers.
Hmmm just why is it that Queenland pollies seem so frightfully interested in killing off the literary side of life?