Blue Poles ought to be sold

Blue Poles ought to be sold

By Caleb Bond

WHY should the Federal Government continue to own a foreign artwork worth hundreds of millions of dollars when that money could go so much further?

It’s a question Victorian Liberal senator James Paterson posed last week and one no one has yet been able to adequately answer.

The Whitlam Government bought Blue Poles in 1973, amid much controversy. At the princely sum of $1.3 million, it was an incredibly expensive piece of art at the time. That sort of price is expensive even now.

I likely don’t have to tell many of you that I am not a great fan of Gough Whitlam.

Assorted lefties would have you believe the sun shone out of his nether regions. Today’s socialist students worship him. He’s about as close to a God as any politician has ever been.

Many a mythical improvement has been attributed to the man, but in retrospect, purchasing Blue Poles was a genius move.

The Jackson Pollock artwork is now worth $350 million – a return on investment of about 30 times when adjusted for inflation. At least it will be, if we sell it.

But for some reason, the arty farty establishment doesn’t want to part with it. They don’t realise public funds are our money, not just theirs to indulge their trendy interests.

It’s symbolism runs deep. For the arts-loving Left (and as an appreciator of the arts myself, that is not necessarily a slight), Blue Poles is an artefact of Whitlam’s short reign. It is a tangible example of the out-there and boundary-pushing policies he pushed.

That is not what government property is for however. Claims that it is some sort of “national treasurer”, as Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told Sky News this week, are nonsense.

Jackson Pollock was an American, Blue Poles was not painted in Australia and it existed for 21 years before the National Gallery bought it.

Popular and recognised? Maybe. But a national treasure it is not.

Why are these arty types so determined to make sure a Yank’s work is the most recognisable piece of art in Australia? Shouldn’t they be getting behind Australian artists instead?

Heck, we could even spend some of the proceeds of Blue Poles’ sale on some Australian art that doesn’t look like it was made by an overexcited kindergarten class.

We already have Pro Hart if we want that sort of thing.

Government arts spending has funded all sorts of questionable endeavours, such as $7000 to musician Joel Cerdor so he could “build a portfolio of work as a promotional and networking tool to further career opportunities.”

He spent it on a trip to Paris where he learnt to play some Iranian string instrument.

By the way, he thanked Australia for its generosity by moving to Taiwan.

There’s plenty more where that came from.

Hello – is this why we pay tax? Can I get my hands on 7000 taxpayer dollars for a trip to France to further my journalistic career?

And yet, when conservative magazine Quadrant this year re-applied to the Australia Council, which distributes arts funding, for it’s routine modest grant, they were knocked back.

Blue Poles ought to be sold to pay back all the useless junk its admirers have made us fund.

The fact is, it won’t vanish into thin air if it sold. It will simply move to a new home, likely another gallery. We can think of it as sharing the love and making a tidy profit while we do it.

As Senator Paterson points out, $350 million is not an insignificant sum of money and could be put towards paying down the debt that risks encumbering future generations.

Indeed, while his suggestion will probably never come to fruition and has only fuelled commentators like me, it brings debt back to the fore.

You’re forgiven if you forgot all about it. No one has mentioned it for about a year.

Debt and deficit has dropped completely off the government’s radar at a time when it needs to be outlining strong policies.

It won’t go away because we stop talking about it. It will just keep growing until today’s teens are left to pick up the pieces.

Malcolm Turnbull could send a strong message that budget repair is back on the agenda by selling one of our most useless public assets.

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