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Show Me What You Got: The Arts and Corruption in Australia and Papua New Guinea

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

Show Me What You Got: The Arts and Corruption in Australia and Papua New Guinea

Andrew Ryan

So what’s happened recently?

The Arts Party popped up on my facebook feed, being all totally non-left-or-right (maybe depending on your understanding of political ideology I guess) but they’re all about just being pro Artist. I think that’s cool, because I’m an artist, and I am happy to see a party that accurately represents my interests: re: showing more care to artists, show more care for affordable education, because it’s really tough being an artist, especially if for whatever reason you’re not quite financially or emotionally capable of going through 3-5 years of institutionalized arts education, which doesn’t Make an artist, but certainly helps when it comes to getting to know people who have enough money to purchase art that isn’t a digitally reproduced printed canvas of Motivating Words from that discount store across the carpark from Woolworths and Bakers Delight in South Freo (deep breath).

Also I think it’s cool that Ben Quilty, who went to Afganistan as Australia’s Official War Artist is pro Arts Party.

The Greens responded to this with a call to give Australian artists help towards not being broke constantly and like, supporting them (us) and stuff, which I also think is cool. Up the exposure guys, we’re definitely worth something.

I was at this announcement in Melbourne in 2011 when the then Victorian premier Ted Baillieu wanted to go on record saying that in that place, at least, the arts were a substantial part of the local economy (some photos here)

so…

If we’re gonna play the economy in politics card… why not help foster local creative talent, what with the potential for even more increase in cultural tourism around the country and all, let the artists do some art, work together to make beautiful art, do cool things that entice spenders here, inspire some people, show them what we’ve got, word of mouth plus good social media campaigns wouldn’t hurt according to market trends, as well as non repressive state government structures that show more care towards keeping the special, inspirational and meaningful things about this chunk of world healthy and sustained, like land, like trees, like ocean, like wildlife, like history; people come here to spend money to see that stuff, to experience it, and learn; not just to sit in a fancy restaurant that specializes in expensive Exclusive Fusion Cuisine…

We may be multi-cultural, and proudly so, but we should maybe spend some more time focusing on the culture that was born of this ground that all our houses are built on. As a nation and as a voting democracy we should be working much harder with the people who know the land, making sure that the babies of those ancestral lines, as far as they reach, are encouraged and respected in their acquisition of that knowledge, AND create culturally safe pathways of education for that knowledge to be shared with everyone who resides on this land, while providing support structures to keep everyone healthy, bring the stories home, learn the land, move with the earth… post-colonial concerns should be with atoning for the crimes of the past (AND ensuring no more destruction or forced assimilation), I reckon anyway…

Speaking of ground, and country, and nations and stuff, four students were shot by police in Port Morseby the other day during a protest against the PNG government, which they were protesting because of government corruption, allegations which are tied to $30 million of fraudulent legal bills being paid – upon the prime minister’s instance – to a legal firm, which was apparently then siphoned in to Australia through real estate and other investments.

Dude. That’s so shit.

And four young educated people were shot while they protested this situation in their nation’s capital.

This same nation’s supreme court recently ruled the detention of asylum seekers sent from Australian waters on their soil (Manus Island) illegal according to the country’s constitution.

Australia all but ignores the ramifications of this ruling.

Remember last ANZAC Day, when heaps of stuff was going around about PNG’s “Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels”?

…sigh… we’re fed 70 year old mythical (bordering on infantile) stories about the Kind and Cute Ones Up North and not kicking up a stink about how condescending that weird “war is good Because Mateship but don’t look at what’s happening in contemporary wars” story is in light of our current situation regarding putting asylum seekers – from wars our own military is involved in – in prison on their shores, against their constitution… presumably thanks to the kind of corruption which students are getting shot for publicly protesting about?

Hey also, do you know that Geronimo song? By a band called Sheppard. You’ve probably heard it on commercial radio, or seen the cutie-pie cardboard army film clip on television screens in places where they get paid to play video clips on certain channels or some shit…

Well, two of the band members grew up in Papua New Guinea, and their father owns the business side of the band, AND he is a partner with a law firm linked with significant political corruption AND was a former director of a security firm operating the Manus Island detention centre.

WHAAAATTT? That’s crazy right? The further you go with this shit, the weirder it gets. Stinks like oily propaganda, keeping audiences placated with inane meaningless bullshit, and mutual-benefit-backslapping to me.

~~~

Paul Hasluck, the guy the electoral division of Hasluck (big chunk of eastern perth area including Gosnells and surrounds, Kalamuunda, Midland, Wattle Grove etc) is named after (and also his author wife), said in his 1988 book “Shades of Darkness: Aboriginal Affairs, 1925-1965) that:

“To practice politics or to discuss political affairs without the illumination of history is as risky as performing surgery in an operating theatre without lights.”

That’s all I got.