Cut the crap about arts funding, just grant us access: @burgewords comments on #ArtsBlackFriday

Australian artists will never be silenced by cuts to funding. MUCH is being made of this week’s wholesale cuts to arts funding in Australia. We knew it was coming, it’s shocking to witness, but does it mean anything to the average Australian artist? Well, if you’re an independent Australian artist, probably not. There is a simple reason for this, and it’s going to be hard for many commentators and readers to accept: for decades now, arts in Australia have been funded in a trickle-down manner that Margaret Thatcher would be proud of. I’m an artist who practices several art forms. I am a fiction and non-fiction author, playwright and painter, and […]

LGBTI versus Christians, an unnecessary war: @burgewords comments on #SafeSchools

This is not a suffering competition for martyrs, it’s a legislative process taking place in a secular nation. THE Turnbull government has no firm plans for a public vote on marriage equality. We only know it’ll be ‘after the election’, an Abbott three-word slogan for ‘on the never-never’; and that it will be a non-binding, $160-million-dollar opinion poll that won’t be compulsory for any Australian voter or politician to participate in. But that doesn’t really matter. While Malcolm Turnbull wasn’t watching, a war cabinet has been plotting against LGBTI dignity from the Coalition backbench, spilling from the party room into the media this week when the Safe Schools program came under attack. […]

Hanging on a red herring: @burgewords reviews #PicnicAtHangingRock

The answer to what drew Miss McGraw to follow the girls up the rock that timeless afternoon was always there, it’s just that others decided we were not prepared for it. FORTY years since the premier of the Peter Weir film, it’s time for Australians to realise that Picnic at Hanging Rock has kept us completely fooled for five decades. This evocative screen mystery burst into our consciousness the same spring that the constitutional crisis of the last months of the Whitlam government left Australians in an altered state. The original novel by Joan Lindsay was similarly about the impact of sudden change. When three schoolgirls and a governess do […]

The making of a #MarriageEquality advocate: @burgewords extract

IRELAND’S yes vote for marriage equality kicked a rainbow-coloured goal for LGBTQI people around the globe, and while the major Australian political parties fight for ownership of the ball, this extract from an upcoming non-fiction podcast and book by MICHAEL BURGE is a reminder of how far we’ve come. Marriage, like a seed, was planted within me as a concept. IN the lead up to the 2004 federal election the issue of same-sex marriage hit the media. The year prior, various provinces followed Ontario’s lead in Canada and allowed same-sex marriages to take place. Many Australians availed themselves of this legislation since it did not require the couples to be residents, but […]

Burning issues for @TonyAbbottMHR: @burgewords #CreatingWaves on #DirectAction

CLIMATE change efforts in Australia have become a matter of simple mathematics. With the Coalition’s Direct Action Bill in place just this week, after a deal struck with the Palmer United Party and Senate crossbenchers, Australia is now attempting to reduce its carbon emissions by 5 per cent by 2020. It’s official: we’re trying, and we won’t have to wait very long to gauge if this policy of financial incentives for major atmosphere polluters to reduce emissions is working. Mind you, the repeal of the perfectly good carbon tax was supposed to reduce my electricity bill. So far, it’s gone dramatically skyward, no matter how many times Environment Minister Greg […]

The man who dismissed dismissal: @burgewords #CreatingWaves on #GoughWhitlam

  Gough Whitlam got conservatives in Australia on the move in the late 1960s and they have never stopped running. IT took me almost half my lifetime to work out what I owe Gough Whitlam. The second son of a NSW grazier and a nurse from Sydney’s north shore who gave up her career to have kids, I was a five-year-old when Whitlam was dismissed. At twelve I was given a fearful lesson on what would happen if the Australian Labor Party ever got back into power, which consisted of a darkly-uttered statement: They’ll spend all the money the country has, just like they did under Gough. By then my family was a victim of the D-word […]

Secrets of a Hollywood king from Kiama: @burgewords #CreatingWaves on Orry-Kelly

JUST about everyone I knew as a kid went to Kiama for the school holidays. Apart from its famous blow-hole, through which the ocean mysteriously forces a geyser-like spray to the delight of tourists, there is nothing extraordinary about this sleepy town which has all the caravan parks, bait shops and holiday rentals of every town on the south coast of NSW. At the back of my mind on a nostalgic return trip a decade ago was Kiama’s most famous son, the three-time Oscar-winning costume designer, Orry-Kelly. I half expected to see a worn plaque on an old civic building, or perhaps a statue. After all, it’s not every day an […]

The Aussie who loved and left us: @burgewords #CreatingWaves on Sumner Locke Elliott

  Expats often get a bad name, perhaps because they heed the bogan’s call to ‘love’ or ‘leave’ our shores, but Elliott had the courage to do both. ALL this talk about progressive thinkers packing up and leaving Australia, if we don’t love what’s happening politically in our country, brings to mind the ones who actually went through with it. With his intriguing, genderless, triple-barrelled name, novelist, playwright and screenwriter Sumner Locke Elliott (1917-1991) remained almost unknown in the country of his birth for much of his life, because he left it early and rarely returned. I am sure many Australians have never heard of the writer of the iconic Australian novel Careful, He Might Hear […]

It’s too late for #MarriageEquality in Australia: @burgewords #CreatingWaves

IN April 2013 Guardian Australia journalist Gay Alcorn declared the culture war was over for marriage equality and confidently asserted that after “a year or two” LGBTQI couples would bask in the same connubial rights as straight Australians. She declared the debate “interminably dull” and credited lobby group Australian Marriage Equality’s (AME) latest pitch for support – via the small business benefits of allowing same-sex marriage – with triggering her boredom threshold. Because I didn’t think Alcorn’s angle helped the debate, I began a long analysis of the foot-dragging this political football has endured in Australia. Here we are eighteen months since her boredom levels peaked, and only one thing has changed: support for marriage equality in […]

Don’t f**k with #JudyDavis: @burgewords #CreatingWaves on an Australian icon

LOVE or hate Australian actress Judy Davis, chances are you’ve seen one of her acerbic, riveting, onscreen meltdowns. I recently caught Charles Sturridge’s underrated 1991 adaptation of E.M. Forster’s debut novel Where Angels Fear to Tread on television, and was reminded what a milestone in her career this movie remains. Already a staple in period dramas by that time, Davis had breathed life into array of heroines on the brink of brave new worlds, and had used a decidedly English voice to do so. Her Sybilla Melvin in My Brilliant Career quite matter-of-factly asserted to her suitors that she was never going to marry. Her Adela Quested, when pressed whether Doctor Aziz had actually done anything to […]