Dear Prime Minister Abbott,
I write to you in your capacity as Minister For Women, firstly to applaud you for acknowledging the importance of this portfolio by taking personal responsibility, and secondly to ask for your support for the Seen & Heard Film Festival. Seen & Heard is a festival that takes place every March at the Red Rattler Theatre in Marrickville, and has showcased the best short films that have been written, produced or directed by women for four years now. I know that you won’t hesitate to throw your full and unqualified support behind this endeavour, because you have always publicly paraded your wife and daughters in a shameless grab for votes made your position on matters relating to women so clear in the past.
To those who tell me that your uptake of this important ministry is a cynical ploy to deflect criticism of your broad disregard for women’s concerns, I respond with nothing but scorn. Clearly they have misunderstood your stated position on a number of issues of great importance to the people of Australia, woman and man alike.
“What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing[i]” is that you had only their best interests at heart when you stated that, “I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas…[ii]” The ingratitude of those who took exception is mind-boggling, especially since you were simply trying to shield the women of Australia from having to deal with the horrors of ‘power’ or ‘influence’, horrors you know only too well.
You should be commended on having maintained this stance, as your recent Cabinet appointments have demonstrated. I do hold grave concerns for Julie Bishop however, and can only hope that you have appointed a team of virile young men to stand between her and any visiting dignitaries with a folding Japanese screen, in order to preserve her womanly innocence.
I am also aware that you have a grand vision for the arts in Australia, and feel that you were unfairly criticised in the lead-up to the election for responding to all ten of Fairfax Media’s arts policy related questions with “Declined to comment[iii]”. I can’t help but feel that your critics are unfamiliar with your love of conceptual performance art, and missed that this was your sly but knowing nod to both Ono and Duchamp. You’ve already done so much, but as Minister for Women I would like to encourage you to further demonstrate your support for women in the arts by supporting, perhaps even attending, our little festival this coming March.
Prime Minister Abbott, it is one thing to pay lip service to the concept of equality, it is quite another to be Seen & Heard.
Seen & Heard Film Festival
Thursday 6th, 13th and 20th March 2014
Red Rattler Theatre
6 Faversham St
Marrickville NSW 2204
Nick Gunn has spent a great deal of his life lurking around the periphery of the arts, occasionally finding the inspiration to write on performance, film and music. Nick supports Seen & Heard because he thinks it’s about time that the other half of the story gets told.
[i] 8/2/2010, in reference to the proposed Emissions Trading Scheme.
[ii] 15/3/2010 on the Four Corners program
[iii] 6/9/2013 in The Age