Cate Blanchett: I was formed by Gough Whitlam’s government for the arts

The Hollywood actress spoke tellingly today at the state funeral of the late Australian prime minister. She quoted him:

He said of his government: ‘In any civilised community the arts and associated amenities must occupy a central place. Their enjoyment should not be seen as remote from everyday life. Of all the objectives of my government, none had a higher priority than the encouragement of the arts; the preservation and enrichment of our cultural and intellectual heritage. Indeed, I would argue that all other objectives of a Labor government — social reform, justice and equity in the provision of welfare services and educational opportunities — have as their goal the creation of a society in which the arts and the appreciation of spiritual and intellectual values can flourish.

“‘Our other objectives are all means to an end. The enjoyment of the arts is an end in itself.’

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  • It all serves as a sad indictment of the current Australian government, and the Village Idiot who leads it. Australians will look back on the Abbott administration as the most damaging and shaming government Australia has ever suffered.

    Australians abroad even find themselves ‘pretending to be New Zealanders’ – to avoid the opprobrium afforded to Aussies.

  • Great to have a voice such as hers speaking out for public arts support and also the rights of women. Be sure to catch her performance in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmin.” I think its the best film performance I have ever seen.

  • in 1998 I visited Adelaide for their Wanger Ring cycle. One evening, after the opera, I was having a beer with some Australians who were also attending, in the bar of our unpretentious hotel close to the arts centre, when Gough and Mrs Whitlam entered. They were staying in the same hotel. There were shouts along the lines of “G’d evening, Gough mate. How y’r doin?” I wonder whether an Australian PM since him has attended a Ring cycle? Or a UK one. And stayed in a 3-star hotel to do it?

    Oh, and one evening I had a beer with the Wotan!

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