Newly anointed Miles Franklin winner Anna Funder has come down hard on our new Premier and his government regarding the axing of the Premier’s Literary Awards. She’s been quoted as saying ‘the first thing that someone with dictatorial inclinations does is to silence the writers and the journalists’, and her comment was followed by leftie hordes rushing to say that book burning’s next.
Well, sure, but fair’s fair and context is everything. By which I mean, haven’t you see this innovative new government’s policy entitled ‘A Modest Proposal for Supporting the Book Industry’?
Let’s get one thing straight first. This government is strongly pro-book and they’re prepared to go on the record about it. As one very senior Minister said recently when he was National Year of Reading Ambassador of the Week, ‘I love books – they make me look taller. If I pick the right ones I only need to stand on three or four. You should see me on John Birmingham’s Axis of Time trilogy. You’d swear I was 5’6″.’
They’re also pro-small business, and this is where their cunning plan will just keep on giving. Yes, there will be book burning, and loads of it, with all the books to be purchased for RRP from local retailers around the state. All stock of Queensland-authored and UQP books will be purchased as fast as booksellers can keep it coming – don’t even open the boxes, people – and substantial stocks of other Australian books will be purchased to make up any shortfall.
This doesn’t just mean income for authors and local booksellers, but it sees money flow through the whole supply chain and back out into the broader economy. As the Minister for Small Business has said, ‘With most of the income of authors, bookstore casuals and publishing company staff going on lattes, we’re expecting to see cafes thriving. Even the drivers of the trucks carrying the books will be contributing, with every kebab or dim sim they purchase from a local business en route.’
And don’t think these will be just any old book fires. The plan just gets better. With winter at its height (albeit none too great a height), books will be offered free to citizens with fireplaces for use as kindling, and books will be used by the truckload by power generators to meet peak demand.
Concerned about the environmental impact of all that burning? Don’t be. The Minister for Climate Change What Climate Change (also Minister for the Environment Looks like a Great Place For Mining) has signed off on it too. In a recent media release he said: ‘I agree there’s a problem with anthropogenic global warming. On these cold winter nights there’s not nearly enough of it. Shiver no more Queensland. Crank up the heating, or burn a carton or two of All That I Am in your own home.’
So, doubters, let’s at least have a pause for thought. Looks like the whole cabinet’s put time in on this one.