Art, politics, money: revisiting Australia's cultural policy

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


In 2006 I wrote one of the early Platform Papers (No. 7) under the title Does Australia Need a Cultural Policy? I was prompted to ask this question because it was then twelve years since the appearance of Australia's first (and only) cultural policy, the document Creative Nation: Commonwealth Cultural Policy (October 1994) produced by the Keating Government. In the interim, following the Labor Party's defeat at the 1996 election, we experienced ten years of John Howard's prime ministership. Howard led a conservative administration that effectively buried Creative Nation when it came into office and subsequently showed no interest in formulating a cultural policy of its own. A further reason for writing that paper was that Australia had undergone a period of profound economic and cultural change during a decade of Coalition rule. On the economic front, the Howard Government pursued policies of deregulation, privatisation and an inexorable transfer of power over resources from public to private hands; the values of individualism and materialism that were fundamental to the liberal economic project held centre stage. Howard was also a conservative in cultural terms, looking to Australia's past as inspiration for his vision of nationhood. Heconstantly referred to defining moments like Gallipoli and Kokoda as opportunities for the Australian battler to emerge as hero and the pivotal characteristics of mateship to be forged. These sorts of considerations informed his view of Australian identity, and as a result he regarded any debate about other notions of 'Australian-ness' or Australian culture as irrelevant. So I wrote the paper reflecting on these changes and concluded by answering my rhetorical question in the affirmative. Since then the ebb and flow of political fortunes have continued to affect the country, so that today it seems more than ever appropriate to ask the question once more. Do the arguments that were relevant in 2006 still apply today? What impacts have the changes in the economic, social and cultural landscape that have occurred in the intervening period had on policy towards the cultural sector?
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationStrawberry Hills, NSW
PublisherCurrency House
Number of pages78
ISBN (Print)9780994613080
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

NamePlatform papers : quarterly essays on the performing arts
ISSN (Print)1449-538X


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