The arty-farties are overwhelmingly Leftist anyway so it is little wonder that conservative politicians give them little heed
The Howard Government MPs are philistines obsessed with sport at the expense of the nation's art and culture, says Labor MP Peter Garrett. He singled out PM John Howard, Treasurer Peter Costello and Health Minister Tony Abbott as the worst offenders. Ministers regularly turned down invitations to attend art and cultural events, he said, preferring instead to bask in the reflected glory of football and cricket stars.
The PM was a cricket tragic, but the Government did not have an equivalent theatre tragic, Mr Garrett said at Monash University. "Can you remember the last time the Prime Minister or the Treasurer offered up their view on the value of creativity, of encouraging expression, of the importance of telling our own stories," he said. "It is no secret that the number of unmet invitations to senior government ministers to arts events continues to pile up to the roof. "Yet attendance at the various football codes is de rigeur for pollies of all persuasions."
A spokeswoman for Mr Costello, an avid Bombers fan, rejected the former Midnight Oil singer's critique. "The Treasurer is a man for all seasons -- the cricket season, the football season, the racing season, and the literary season," she said.
Mr Abbott came in for special mention over his comment several years ago that parliament house's art collection was avant-garde crap. Mr Garrett said it was "as good an expression of philistinism as you'd ever see". The recent Picasso exhibition in Melbourne drew enormous crowds and showed up Mr Abbott's ignorance. A spokeswoman for Mr Abbott said he visited galleries from time to time. Although Mr Abbott was not a ballet goer he did recently attend a live performance of Dancing on Ice.
Mr Garrett, Labor's spokesman for the arts, said many artists earned as little as $17,000 a year and had to live hand-to-mouth, week by week.
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