Until it’s gone…

I was in early adolescence when Gough Whitlam became Prime Minister in 1972. I’m afraid to say that I was not a politically minded adolescent. I had other things on my mind—important things like problem hair, who was coming to the Perth Entertainment Centre, and how I was going to get out of dissecting a frog in Biology.


Spare a thought for my long-suffering grandfather, whom I made drive around Perth following the Radio 6PM van so I could win this T-shirt


And yes, I’m a bit of a hoarder…

But recently I came across this quote by Whitlam:

A healthy artistic climate does not depend solely on the work of a handful of supremely gifted individuals. It demands the cultivation of talent and ability at all levels. It demands that everyday work, run-of-the-mill work, esoteric and unpopular work should be given a chance; not so much in the hope that genius may one day spring from it, but because, for those who make the arts their life and work, even modest accomplishment is an end in itself and a value worth encouraging. The pursuit of excellence is a proper goal, but it is not the race itself…

I look at our current politicians, and those of recent times, and can find no trace of this civilised and civilising attitude towards the arts and their place in our cultural life.


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23 responses to “Until it’s gone…

  1. Arriving here two years later, I wasn’t a Whitlam fan but the quote has a lot of merit.

  2. Brilliant words, Amanda, and Gough. Now, let’s see you wearing that priceless Leo Sayer tee shirt. (Grandfathers forever!) 👌😄

  3. Gough was a very wise man. 🙂

  4. Marlish Glorie

    A great and timely quote, and how wonderful you kept your concert tickets, Amanda especially the one for Deep Purple. 🙂

  5. But for Whitlam I could never have afforded university. His government’s policy improved my life dramatically. Now, as a mature age, I along with others, struggle to pay for our creative writing courses & despair!

    • Oh, I hear you, Janice. I chose not to go to university after high school, as I had no clue what I wanted to do, so I missed out on Gough’s policies and paid later, as a mature-age undergrad and postgrad.

  6. Glen Hunting

    Hi Amanda,
    I am not of the Whitlam generation, but I stumbled across this quote of his some years ago; it was at the start of a book about painting in Australia, or arts funding in Australia…??? I can’t remember now. I have a sneaking suspicion that Germaine Greer had something to do with whatever book it was in. Where did you pluck it from, out of curiosity?

  7. Glen Hunting

    P.S. I managed to see Deep Purple many years after their heyday, at one of the last shows ever staged at the old Entertainment Centre. They were so loud I could listen to them on my headphones next morning at full volume, and it still seemed quiet.

  8. Alas I frittered away my adolescence on Abba and Boney M and the wisest thing those worthies ever said was to sit and weep by the rivers of Babylon, I think. However, years later, in Oz, my daughter became a big fan of The Whitlams, and we had conversations about Gough, consequently. 🙂

  9. The wisdom — and generosity — of Whitlam. What a literal and metaphorical giant of a man. He also advocated free tertiary education for all…

  10. mrswilcoxsmeadow

    Oh those Entertainment Centre tickets brought back memories. I think my first Perth concert was Genesis. Then Simply Red. Classic ’80’s pop. Your post made me consider how it was that I got the idea of being a writer, growing up in my working class suburb miles from the city. I think it was because my public school took us regularly to the Playhouse Theatre and that is how I fell in love with Tennessee Williams – my first literary crush.

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