Hostilities Resume In Australia's Culture Wars As Publisher Morry Schwartz Attacks PM's Literary Awards Judge

Gerard Henderson and former PM Kevin Rudd at Sydney Institute annual dinner in 2008.

Melbourne property developer Morry Schwartz, owner of Black Inc Books and publisher of The Saturday Paper and The Monthly, has launched a withering attack on The Sydney Institute Director and The Australian columnist Gerard Henderson, accusing him of being an “ideological warrior” who is too politically biased to be the chairman of the non-fiction judging panel for the $600,000 Prime Minister’s Literary Prize.

While the PM’s own publisher, Louise Adler, chairs the fiction and poetry section, Henderson leads a panel of five that also includes journalist and former Liberal MP Peter Coleman.

A media release signed by Schwartz and Black Inc. publisher Chris Feik describes Henderson as having “a history of incessant and obsessive criticism of leading Australian writers and commentators with whom he disagrees politically”.

“Among Henderson’s political targets are many of Australia’s leading writers, commentators, historians and journalists.

“If any of these writers were to submit a book for the 2014 Prime Minister’s Non-Fiction Literary Prize, Henderson’s history of campaigning against them means they could have no confidence of receiving an unprejudiced reading,” the pair say.

The awards were created by former PM Kevin Rudd.

“The politicisation of this award means that the award’s integrity has been seriously damaged,” Schwatz and Feik say.

Schwartz says Black Inc. will publish a list of the books it entered and calls on the award to do the same “so that readers can see what was submitted and rejected, as well as what was shortlisted”.

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