Previous issues
Contact Us

Summer 2004 cover

National Observer Home > No. 59 - Summer 2004 > Editorial Comment

Taxpayers' Moneys Financing Left-of-Centre Causes

This journal has consistently affirmed that Mr. John Howard is markedly superior as Prime Minister to his potential rivals, such as Mr. Simon Crean, Mr. Peter Costello, Mr. Kim Beazley and Mr. Mark Latham.

Nonetheless, like Mr. Malcolm Fraser Mr. Howard is letting down the electorate in a number of important respects. The persistent problems of the A.B.C. and S.B.S. have been discussed above, but in many other regards also Mr. Howard has left untouched government subsidies of left-of-centre elites and their political and social causes. A salient example is found in the Arts. Many millions of dollars are spent every year to subsidise various writers, painters and musicians and others, who are unable to survive on the merit of their works.3 Needless to say, Mr. Howard's government has allowed the legacy of the Hawke-Keating years to persist in which the control of government spending in these areas passed to left-of-centre groups. A writer with leftist views is hence much more likely to obtain government support than a writer without political supporters on the left or, a fortiori, than a witer with traditional values.

Mr. Andrew Bolt, perhaps Australia’s leading journalist, who writes in the Herald Sun, has also commented on Australian Research Council grants, which represent a further appropriation of taxpayers’ moneys by left-of-centre groups, under the aegis of Dr. Brendan Nelson, the Minister for Education. These grants total $250 million per annum, and their allocation provides a basis for grave concern.4 It is useful to set out some of the examples provided by Mr. Bolt:

"Dr. Dirk Moses got $90,000 of your money to discuss ‘Genocide and the Holocaust’ by ‘studying the cases of Germany and Australia’. Nazis are so like Australians – get it?

Professor Marilyn Lake, the feminist who claims women are ‘worked to death’ as ‘slaves to the nation’ now gets $480,000 to attack the ‘history of white Australia through an investigation of the idea of the ‘white man's country’ as a defensive response to a changing world order’.

Veteran Marxist Professor Bob Connell got $126,000 for research on ‘peace-making’ and ‘how masculinities are mobilised in conflict situations’.

Professor Diane Austin-Broos got $150,000 to compare ‘the welfare economy in Central Australia and the drug economy in down-town Kingston, in her native Caribbean.

Another $450,000 was bestowed on Mr. Gerald Goggin for ‘a biography of the mobile phone’, in which the phone will be studied as a ‘cultural object’.

And Dr. Robert Hattam will share in $150,000 to develop a ‘theory of pedagogies for reconciliation’: nice work for a ‘social justice’ theorist out to explain ‘the politics of teachers’ work in terms of a productive theory of power’.

Yes, there are also lots of worthy projects on the A.R.C. list. But that is no excuse for Nelson to spend millions so academics can pursue self-indulgent theories and neo-Marxist fancies, much of it hostile to our culture, history and institutions.

I was wondering how the A.R.C. got this smug-clubby feel when I noted one particular sport — $212,000 to three Melbourne old-time Marxists, Professor Stuart Macintyre, Professor Andrew Milner and Associate Professor Verity Burgmann.

It was interesting enough that the three of them were getting so much public money to study the propaganda of old Australian ‘radical intellectuals’ and put it on-line, especially when Macintyre for nearly twenty years was a leading member and historian of the Communist Party and hardly seemed to need Nelson's encouragement to further spread that political poison.

But even more interesting is that Macintyre got this grant while he was — and is — chairman of one of the A.R.C.'s six expert panels that decide which researchers to fund."

All of this distasteful activity has been permitted to flourish under Mr. John Howard's government. Admittedly clearing out the Augean stables is a distasteful task, but it is a task that must be performed. In fact, Mr. Howard — like Mr. Malcolm Fraser before him — evinces a certain moral cowardice in ignoring improper disbursements and continuing the use of taxpayers’ resources in subsidising left-of-centre causes. As a consequence of his supineness and pusillanimous embracing of his and Australia's enemies, Mr. Fraser has lost his initial reputation. Mr. Howard’s reputation will likewise suffer irreversibly if it becomes generally perceived that in the interests of an easy life he is not prepared to remedy the serious abuses that exist.

3. It may be asked why writers, painters and musicians should be subsidized at all by taxpayers? Such subsidies have not produced any Australian Beethovens or Mozarts, Haydns or Bachs, Dickens or Trollopes, or Tolstoys or Dostoyevskys, and such Australian painters as have been successful have succeeded by their popular appeal and the preparedness of the public to purchase their works. The government subsidisation of the arts may well be regarded as the support of non-viable mediocrity. Moreover this support is not funded from the thin air, so to speak. It is provided out of the incomes of taxpayers who in many cases have financial needs that they cannot readily meet.

4. The Herald Sun, 19 November 2003.

National Observer No. 59 - Summer 2004