Go to top of page

Prime Minister’s Literary Awards

FIFIELD:

Well Louise thank you very much. And I think ladies and gentlemen you know something that I discovered early in the piece. And that is when Louise asked you to do something, you shouldn't treat it as a request, you should treat it as an order and just say yes, because it'll save time, and that's said with one. Ladies and gentlemen we should give another round of applause to the Australian Youth Orchestra ensemble who have entertained us earlier.

Could I also acknowledge the Prime Minister and Mrs Lucy Turnbull. And two very good friends who are here tonight, Tanya Costello and Peter Coleman, great to see you. Could I also pay tribute to Louise in her capacity as chair of the fiction and poetry judges' panel. Dr Ida Lichter, Chair of the Australian history and non-fiction judges panel. And Mike Shuttleworth, Chair of the young adults and children fiction judges panel. And all of those who have put their hands up to serve as judges for these very important awards. But most of all to the 2015 shortlisted authors, illustrators and publishers who are here tonight.

This really is my first opportunity as a newish Arts Minister to stand before Australia's literary community. And I've got to say I am very excited to be in this role to serve you. Now some of you would've heard me say before that I see myself not only a steward of the arts in this role, but also as student of the arts. And I'm very much looking to many of you who are in the room tonight to be good teachers of me to help me in my effectiveness as the Minister for the Arts.

But tonight is a great celebration and I think one of the important statements that these awards make is that the heralded demise of particular mediums of artistic expression courtesy of technology has not come to pass. Film was going to kill theatre. Video was going to kill film. And all of these were going to provide challenges to books. And the digital format was going to see off the printed and the physical word on paper. Clearly this has not happened. And part of the reason for that is because the touch and the smell of the book is something that can't be surpassed. And as a vehicle for the imagination there are few mediums that are a peer with that of books. And the Australian community, their hunger for Australian stories by Australian authors will always be with us. And we will always have the capacity as a nation to satisfy that need and that desire as we should.

One of the great things about these awards is they've been going for 8 years. They are elevated beyond partisanship. Successive Prime Ministers have embraced these awards as an important moment in the life of the nation. And I will be unable tonight to say something portentous about the Prime Minister which I did at the opening of the new wing of NIDA the other night when I said to the Prime Minister that he needed to accept the inevitability one day of 'Malcolm the Musical'.

I can't say that in relation to books and literature because the Prime Minister has already been a published author. The Prime Minister has already been the subject of a book or two. And I do think, however as I look at the Prime Minister, he has a book or two in him. Maybe an award winning author. In fact I can see in the year 2030, standing on this podium, Prime Minister Wyatt Roy handing out an award to Malcolm Bligh Turnbull. Who knows? We'll have to wait and see.

The Prime Minister is a voracious reader. He is passionate about Australian works. He is passionate about Australian authorship. Would you please welcome the Prime Minister.

Media contact: Justine Sywak | 0448 448 487 | Justine.sywak [at] communications.gov.au ()