Conservative Politician Launches Bizarre Tirade Against Artworks in Australia’s Parliament House

Politicians need to leave art and artists alone.

Craig Kelly isn't a fan of contemporary Australian art. Photo: Alan Porritt/AAP

An Australian politician has launched an astonishing tirade against the artworks displayed in Canberra’s Parliament House.

“Call me a philistine, but I think most of the artwork around Parliament House is appalling,” Craig Kelly, the representative for the Sydney seat of Hughes, said in a Facebook post.

“Do you think this painting is suitable for Parliament House?” He asked, referring to Wendy Sharpe’s The Witches, which was commissioned as part of a temporary Shakespeare-inspired exhibition, the Guardian reported.

One Facebook user commented, “I think that some politicians spend way too much time resting on that part of the human anatomy depicted in this beautiful artwork contemplating frivolous things rather than doing the ‘business’ they were elected to do.”

Another pointed out “The Libs cohort ought to be careful on this subject. It reveals more of them than they would wish for. Your pants are down Kelly! You stand naked before Australia and you’ve come up short!”

Sharpe did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

According to The Age, regulations state that only works by living Australian artists may be acquired for the parliamentary collection, which is valued at AUD 80 million ($58.7 million) and comprises around 5,000 works.

A host of parliamentarians have criticized the art on display in Canberra. Photo: Craig Kelly via Facebook

A host of parliamentarians have criticized the art on display in Canberra.
Photo: Craig Kelly via Facebook

Kelly is not the first to share his opinions on parliamentary art collections. In 2003 former National Gallery director Betty Churcher was hired to review the collection after several parliamentarians complained about the artworks.

Fellow Liberal and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott reportedly described the collection as “avant-garde crap,” in a survey distributed by Churcher.

Another unnamed MP called the works “junk!” and “modern mishmash.” Other responses included “dreary,” “dismal,” “depressing,” and “dark.”


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