Hannie's evil brew

Andrew Bolt
Herald Sun


IT took a hot spa-full of your money to produce Hannie Rayson - an activist writer whose latest play accuses our navy of murdering women and children.

In fact, only a taxpayer-nursed artist in this grants-stuffed culture could have given us Two Brothers, which the Melbourne Theatre Company premiered on Wednesday, to the wild cheers of the usual critics. As I wrote on Wednesday, Rayson's Two Brothers doesn't simply accuse our military of being mass murderers just when we are mourning the Sea King dead, the nine members of our armed forces who died bringing aid to Indonesia.

The play also makes a monster of Treasurer Peter Costello and meanly mocks his children and wife.

Its lead character -- which Rayson announces was "inspired" by Costello, and which actor Garry McDonald trained for by learning the "Costello smirk" -- is, just like the real Costello, a senior minister who is plotting to be prime minister, and has a Leftist brother who runs a charity.

To complete the joke, the MTC even invited Costello, and his brother Tim, the World Vision boss, to the premiere. Giggle, giggle.

Not such a joke is that Rayson completes her portrait by making her Costello character a liar, bully, adulterer and killer, with a dead drug addict for a son and ditzy snob for a wife.

And, of course, her Costello is satanic enough to tell a navy ship not to save hundreds of illegal asylum-seekers drowning under its very bows -- a reference to the sinking off Indonesian waters in 2001 of SIEV-X, which conspiracy theorists believe was indeed abandoned by our sailors.

Yes, Costello would be so evil, because isn't he a Liberal? And our soldiers and sailors would obey orders to drown children, because aren't they baby-killers?

What hate-filled barbarians artists of the Left have become, as I've learned only too personally. Max Gillies' new show, for instance, viciously mocks my young son, and tells crude fat jokes about Howard Government Minister Amanda Vanstone. When did these artists resign from civilised society?

I mention Rayson again not to simply once more condemn her play.

What I ask now is how a writer of much-praised talent could write such stuff -- so comic-book unworldly, and so casually cruel, spearing even the children and wives of her living targets.

I can only guess, knowing Rayson as little as she knows Costello. But here is a clue: In an interview last week, Rayson said that in writing Two Brothers, "my quest in a way was to try and get inside the conservative mindset, because I don't really understand it".

She added: "It was an odd thing to start researching: How do the Right think? . . . So I ring people up and tell them what I'm doing and can I come and talk?"

It seems that Rayson, this student of humanity, doesn't actually know or understand anyone who isn't of the Left. These are people whose views she seems to me to have never considered -- and still cannot grasp -- even though there are so many such folk that they've put John Howard and Costello into office in the past four elections.

So how has she been able to keep distant all these fellow Australians, all those potential theatregoers, without at least going broke from lack of ticket sales? And why does she so hate or fear these non-Leftists?

I SUSPECT it's that flood of government gold that allows Rayson to drink and drink, without having to ask nicely for water from the passing crowd instead. That great gush of public money that makes our guzzling artists praise the Lord for big government of the Left and fear the Liberal demons who might turn off that tap, and point them to their public.

See for yourself how government cash has trained, paid, feted, nursed and staged Rayson or her works, making the public's verdict indecisive, if not irrelevant.

She started by studying at the taxpayer-funded Victorian College of the Arts, and later sat on its council. She also studied and worked at taxpayer-funded universities and theatre companies.

Her plays have been staged in Australia's taxpayer-funded theatres by taxpayer-subsidised companies, and have won the (Labor) Premier's Literary Awards in New South Wales and Victoria, bringing her taxpayer-funded prizes.

The taxpayer-funded Australian Writers' Guild gave her another award, and she in turn has handed out taxpayer-funded grants in her work for the taxpayer-funded Australia Council and State Library.

A film of her Hotel Sorrento was made with taxpayers' money, and Victorian taxpayers recently gave another $35,000 to help her develop the script of a television mini-series. She wrote other television scripts for the taxpayer-funded ABC.

Meanwhile, she's given talks at taxpayer-funded writers' festivals in Sydney, Brisbane and Byron Bay, and has advised the Bracks Government on how to spend yet more taxpayers' dollars on the arts.

And now she's a fellow of the Australia Centre at the taxpayer-funded Melbourne University.

Not entirely coincidentally, the Australia Centre also employs Rayson's husband, Michael Cathcart, who for five years worked on the taxpayer-funded ABC, where he reported on our taxpayer-subsidised arts.

Cathcart has also been an adviser to the taxpayer-funded Malthouse Theatre, edited a book published by the taxpayer-underwritten Melbourne University Press and made a CD sold to taxpayer-funded schools.

I do apologise for dragging Cathcart into this, even though I am playing by the no-rules his wife has set.

But unlike Rayson, I do not stoop to vilify a spouse, and mention Cathcart only to make a point -- that it is easy to believe Rayson when she says she had no idea how conservatives thought.

When would she or those closest to her ever have had to engage with someone who wasn't a member of the subsidised cultural elite?

Who would she bump into who didn't think big government was the saviour, or that finding a large and paying audience a demeaning distraction? See how government cash insulates an artist from the public?

TWO years ago, at a taxpayer-funded awards night, Rayson made a speech condemning the Howard Government for backing free trade, allegedly making artists here compete harder with foreigners.

"Our Government is turning us into a kind of cultural Werribee," she complained.

It has indeed done that, but not as Rayson thinks -- by making artists battle for a free-market dollar.

It's done it instead by paving with taxpayers' gold their path to the asylum where everyone, dear, agrees it's the rest of the world that has gone mad.


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