Here it is! The Queensland Literary Awards new logo. Get used to it - you'll be seeing it around. Logo courtesy of the QLA.

The Queensland Literary Awards

In April 2012, two weeks after Queensland’s new Liberal National Party government came to office, Premier Campbell Newman cancelled the state’s Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards. Jaws dropped across the nation, and judges, entrants and previous winners were dismayed at the action – as was founder of the Awards, former Labor Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie.

The industry regards government recognition as vital in encouraging the nation’s literary culture and creative economy. It is actually an industry, Campbell, not a self-indulgent hobby, and it’s an industry worth billions of dollars. This decision, however, was apparently taken with no consultation with writers’ organisations, publishers, editors, booksellers or people working in online and print media.

A spokesman for The Australian Society of Authors (ASA), the premier support organisation for writers and illustrators in Australia, said: ‘These awards (which in 2011 totalled $230,000 across 14 categories) have showcased the work of Australian writers across all fields, as well as provided much-needed financial encouragement to those creators. As authorship is mostly low-paid work, this is a heavy blow to our authors, who typically rely on a number of sources, including awards and prizes, to make up a basic income each year.’

It was embarrassing really. Not only did Noddy do this in the run-up to Queensland’s hosting one of the largest and most vibrant writers’ festivals in Australia and around the world, but he did it flat in the middle of the National Year of Reading – a terrific message to kids about the importance of literacy. It was a move worthy of Joh! (Gen Y and Z: ‘Who’s Joh?) Precisely! And Mr Newman would do well to remember that.

Actually, Noddy’s actions against the arts would seem to be as capricious as former National Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s – but no. Among the support emails that swamped the ASA was one from Harry Youngberry who reminded us that: ‘In fact it was Joh who must be (somewhat reluctantly) credited with creating the first Department of the Arts anywhere in the whole of Australia. That’s right! The first in the entire country was created in good old Queensland under Joh and Co!’

(Gen Y and Z plaintively: ‘But who’s Joh?) Well kiddies, Joh Bjelke-Petersen was a former premier (from 1968–1987), who could mangle a metaphor with the best of them. He often did this during what he called 'feeding the chooks' - translation: briefing the media - and once famously told reporters who criticised him: ‘The greatest thing that could happen to the state and nation is when we get rid of all the media ... then we could live in peace and tranquillity and no one would know anything.’

Most taxpayers would agree that some support for the arts is essential but it’s often the first thing to go when governments get out the razor gang. Of course, what is considered essential by governments is often determined by their leaders.

When public health workers were desperately trying to convince Joh that condoms in public places were essential to combat STDs in the community, Joh was quick to reply: ‘We don't want any of that sort of thing up here.’ Apparently Campbell Newman thinks the same thing about literacy and regards the literary awards as a ‘waste of taxpayer money’.

But Noddy misjudged the people of Queensland and their writers. They got as mad as hell and weren’t going to take it any more! Authors Krissy Kneen and Matthew Condon led the charge, and very soon a small group from the literary and arts community formed in order to establish the Queensland Literary Awards on 4 April 2012, with University of Queensland lecturer Stuart Glover as Chair. The group created a website pretty much overnight and their facebook page attracted over one thousand fans in less than a week.

More than 600 books and manuscripts have been submitted and are now in the hands of the judges (much appreciated but unpaid). The Queensland daily The Courier-Mail has sponsored a new $5,000 prize, which brings private sponsorship to a total prize pool of $19,000 – rather less than the $240,000 available under the Premier’s Awards which were established in 1999.

The Courier-Mail and the QLA Board announced a new prize for the awards. The Courier-Mail’s ‘People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year’ will be presented for the first time at the awards night in September and readers will decide the winner.

The Courier-Mail editor, Michael Crutcher, said: ‘The rebirth of the Queensland Literary Awards has been all about the power of the community. So it’s fitting The Courier-Mail People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year should be decided by Queenslanders.’

A judging panel has shortlisted six books for the award, all of them written by authors who were born in Queensland, or who have lived here for the past three years and had their work published between May 2011 and May 2012. The successful author will be determined by readers voting at and will receive $5,000.

The fiction entries are barrister Simon Cleary’s Closer to Stone, author Nick Earls’ The Fix and popular bookstore worker Chris Currie’s The Ottoman Hotel, about a teenage boy on holiday in northern New South Wales.

Non-fiction entries are Patrick Holland’s travel book Riding the Trains in Japan, Kari Gislason’s family memoir The Promise of Iceland and the popular book written by William McInnes with illustrations by Sarah Watt Worse Things Happen at Sea, which celebrates family life.

On Thursday, 6 September 2012, there was full house for the new Queensland Literary Awards in Auditorium 2 at the State Library of Queensland where supporters heard a selection of shortlisted and winning writers read from and discuss their work with the inaugural president of the newly formed Queensland Literary Awards Assoc Inc., Stuart Glover.

For those of you who don’t know: Dr Stuart Glover, BA (Qld); DipArtsMgt (QUT); MA (Griffith); PhD (Qld) – teaches creative writing at the University of Queensland. He was the founding Director of the Brisbane Writers Festival and is currently a member of the Literature Board of the Australia Council. Stuart has worked regularly as an arts worker, freelance journalist and reviewer and is editor of Hot Iron Corrugated Sky: 100 Years of Queensland Writing. Dr Glover’s research focuses on literary culture and institutions.

Go to Website Watch below to visit the new QLA website and check out the fledgling organisation’s aims, committee, volunteers, judges, entry categories, sponsors and partners.

Website Watch

Queensland Literary Awards

Go to QAL’s new website for the genesis story, committee members, a list of judges and entries, and information on their growing number of supporters and partners. The Queensland Literary Awards team will be grateful for any ideas and offers of help to ensure that the awards have a future beyond 2012. Go to

When the going gets tough... the tough get going!