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Black Inc. says integrity of PMLAs ‘seriously damaged’, calls for list of entries to be published

Black Inc. has called on the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards to publish a list of all entries submitted for the award for nonfiction.

In a statement, Black Inc. director Morry Schwarz and publisher Chris Feik said the PMLAs should publish the list ‘as a sign of good faith … so that readers can see what was submitted and rejected, as well as what was shortlisted’.

The call follows the announcement that Gerard Henderson will chair the judging panel for the 2014 nonfiction and history awards.

‘Henderson has a history of incessant and obsessive criticism of leading Australian writers and commentators with whom he disagrees politically,’ said the statement from Black Inc., citing Henderson’s Media Watch Dog blog.

Schwarz and Feik said the appointment of the ‘ideological warrior’ politicises ‘what has until now been an apolitical award based on merit’.

The Black Inc. statement listed Henderson’s ‘regular targets’ and said ‘if any of these writers were to submit a book for the 2014 Prime Minister’s Nonfiction Literary Prize, Henderson’s history of campaigning against them means they could have no confidence of receiving an unprejudiced reading’.

Black Inc. said it would publish a list of all the books it submitted for the prize.

The writers Black Inc. said were regular targets of Henderson were David Marr, Peter FitzSimons, Robert Manne, Elizabeth Farrelly, Margaret Simons, Malcolm Fraser, Virginia Trioli, Mungo MacCallum, Waleed Aly, Guy Rundle, Laura Tingle, Jonathan Green, Fran Kelly, Malcolm Farr, Mark Latham, Paul Bongiorno, Phillip Adams, Tim Flannery, Tim Soutphommasane, Nick Dyrenfurth and Hugh White. ‘In other words … many of Australia’s leading writers, commentators, historians and journalists,’ said Schwarz and Feik.

Schwarz and Feik said the ‘politicisation of this award means that the award’s integrity has been seriously damaged’ and urged the PMLAs to publish a list of submitted works to increase ‘the accountability of the nation’s richest literary prizes’.

Scribe publisher Henry Rosenbloom has told the Fairfax press he thinks Black Inc. has ‘an absolutely legitimate case’. ‘So have any publishers who publish left-of-centre writers,’ he added. ‘There is no doubt the integrity of the PMLAs has been compromised by the appointment. That doesn’t mean that Henderson won’t operate impartially, but it’s hard to believe he would given his track record.’



Category: Local news