One thing Catton got really wrong about her critique of the government was calling it ‘neoliberal’ and claiming it didn’t support the arts because they’re profit-obsessed, etc. Like I’ve said before, these guys aren’t neoliberal and aren’t remotely ‘profit obsessed’. They don’t believe in free markets and market forces, and they give eye-glazingly large amounts of taxpayer money away to golf tournaments, yacht races, sports stadiums and other things that make no economic sense whatsoever (we know this because Treasury keeps telling them so.)
If New Zealand’s novelists had banded together, formed a lobby group with an ex-National MP as Director, taken the PM’s Chief of Staff out to dinner somewhere nice and all chipped in a donation to National’s election campaign then Literature would have quickly become part of Joyce’s ‘Business Growth Agenda’. Most of our literati would be in Menton by now, writing by the poolside at the gleaming new taxpayer funded New Zealand pavilion, and none of this unpleasantness would have happened.