Green Taliban fighter Eleanor Catton attacks most popular PM in recent history

It’s not that people outside of politics aren’t allowed to have an opinion.  It’s the fact they do so pretending to have come to such views independently, and aren’t really speaking for a political movement.

Prime Minister John Key has defended his Government’s record on supporting the arts, following a stinging attack from acclaimed author Eleanor Catton.

Catton, winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize for her West Coast-set novel The Luminaries, told reporters in India that she’s struggling with her identity as a New Zealand writer, and is “very angry” with the Government.

“Coming and being an ambassador for my country when I feel that actually my country is not doing as much as they could for the intellectual world in general, but for the literary arts… It’s just a slightly complicated position to be in,” she said.

“At the moment, New Zealand, like Australia and Canada, [are dominated by] these neo-liberal, profit-obsessed, very shallow, very money-hungry politicians who do not care about culture. They care about short-term gains. They would destroy the planet in order to be able to have the life they want.”

“neo-liberal, profit-obsessed, very shallow, very money-hungry politicians who do not care about culture”.

…because that’s how we all speak when we say things off-the-cuff.

Speaking on Firstline this morning, Mr Key said her views were “sad” because a lot of taxpayer money has been spent on backing New Zealand’s literary sector.

“We were the Government that for instance was part of being country of the year that was host of the [2012 Frankfurt Book Fair], for instance. Actually I remember us getting some criticism for putting in so much money into that particular event.”

He says Catton’s association with the Green Party has clouded her views. Catton publicly backed the Greens before last year’s general election.

“At the end of the day, Eleanor Catton is pretty well-known as being associated to the Green Party. Those views are views of the Green Party,” says Mr Key.

Well Elleanor, arts are what you can afford when you have made profit and paid for the essentials.  Art is a nice to have.   Art is something you choose to do as a person, not something that a Government needs to create, nurture and pay for.

Government creates the conditions for a prosperous New Zealand, where people have disposable time and money to spend.  And then arts come into a society.   You don’t actually force arts into the process as if it has the same importance as jobs, health, housing, transport, food or energy.

As for real art.  It doesn’t take much for someone to sit down at a $200 laptop and start banging out a book in a free text editor.

John Key calls you sad.  I call you spoiled.


– Dan Satherley, 3 News

Do you want:

  • ad-free access?
  • access to our very popular daily crossword?
  • access to Incite Politics magazine articles?

Silver subscriptions and above go in the draw to win a $500 prize to be drawn at the end of March.

Not yet one of our awesome subscribers? Click Here and join us.

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.