New Matilda contributor Ben Eltham has claimed budget cuts to the Australia Council were payback for the artist boycott of the 2014 Sydney Biennale over sponsor Transfield’s role running offshore detention centres, The Australian reports today.
“Not only had artists shown themselves to be motivated by an animus against government policy — and there was no more treasured policy of the Abbott government than the mandatory offshore detention of asylum seekers — but also against the values of the market itself,” the Oz quotes Eltham as saying in a paper published by Currency House. “For this they would be punished.”
Cue the spooky music. Some sinister theremin, maybe. The word “neoliberal” features in the article. And we all know how that single word makes M R James’ pioneering piece of horror writing Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad appear as spine-chilling as Disney’s Bambi.
But of course if Eltham wants to play conspiracy theories, here’s one for him. What was the Australia Council’s decision earlier this year to deny any literary funding to Quadrant magazine? An eye for an eye?