ONE of Australia’s top authors has slammed the axing of the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards by the new Queensland government.
Ballarat author Peter Temple, the winner of Australia’s most prestigious literary award, the Miles Franklin Literary Prize, yesterday told The Courier Queensland Premier Campbell Newman had “lowered the tone of the state” by controversially scrapping the famous literary prize.
“Literary awards are far more than gifts to writers, much appreciated as these gifts are,” Temple said.
“Prizes like the Miles Franklin and the Victorian Premier’s Award celebrate the place of the book in our culture.
“They tell the world that we value books and the people who write them. By his action in dropping the award, the Queensland Premier is saying the opposite.
Newman scrapped the Queensland awards earlier this month, arguing the $244,000 saving was part of the Liberal National Party’s cost-cutting drive.
Temple weighed in on the issue as Victorian Premier and Minister for the Arts Ted Baillieu called for entries for the 2012 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, including Australia’s most valuable literary prize, the Victorian Prize for Literature.
Mr Baillieu said the awards celebrated the role of writers in society and their contribution to Australian culture.
He said since their inauguration in 1985, the awards had enjoyed support from successive premiers.
Jill Blee of the Ballarat-based Centre for Modern Australian Writing said she was shocked when the Queensland awards were axed.
She said literary prizes provided real incentives for Australian writers to finish their works.
“A lot of us don’t make a lot of money and we rely on those prizes to make an income,” she said.