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.
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.