Give a man or woman a soapbox from which to preach and there’s always the danger that a populist diatribe will follow.
A politician might well believe in what they say, or they might spout someone else’s spin, against their own beliefs, to save their own skin.
Whatever his motivations, Wodonga councillor Tim Quilty has attacked the merits of providing grants to HotHouse Theatre and Murray Arts.
We can only assume that Cr Quilty genuinely believes it is not appropriate to fund these organisations because ratepayers’ money can be better spent.
He is entitled to that view and, given the way the council spent so many years doing all it could to stifle open debate through making decisions behind closed doors, it’s something incumbent on us to defend the right to express.
But with this privilege, granted to him by the people who actually voted him in, comes responsibility.
Cr Quilty surmising that funding HotHouse Theatre and Murray Arts subsidises rich theatre-goers is absurd and surely disingenuous.
The reality, which he’d understand if he took the time to speak to the fair whack of people in the community who value the arts, is not such a lazy, misinformed cliche.
Cr Quilty might want to talk to the single mum who saves whatever money she can because her young daughter or son wants to take part in a HotHouse junior drama class, because sport isn’t their priority.
He might want to talk to the pensioners who are grateful for the opportunity to see a professionally produced play in their own community, because they crave the forum to share ideas, to hear others’ voices, to be entertained.
We still love our sport, clamber for better education outcomes for our kids, want to see our business community supported so it can prosper in all our interests.
And so Cr Quilty, please continue to advocate for what you believe people genuinely want or need.
But we’d appreciate a reasoned argument, rather than a line designed to catch people’s attention and which actually manages to insult them at the same time.
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