Blue Poles Writing Competition Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the IPA’s Blue Poles Writing Competition, which asked entrants to explain, in 350 words or less, why the government should NOT sell Jackson Pollock’s $350 million dollar painting ‘Blue Poles’. Each of these entrants is now $350 richer! Remember to stay tuned for more IPA and Generation Liberty writing competitions for chances to win generous prizes and to contribute to the public debate!

These are the winning entries:


1) Ben Paris, 34

The only reason for retaining Blue Poles is financial. The rate of return achieved on Blue Poles over the past 43 years has been 13.9%. Currently the government can issue 15 year bonds at a 4.5% rate. Given an interest rate spread of 9.4% it would seem to be fiscal folly to sell the asset. This however does not solve the cash flow issues facing the government.

To address the cash flow issues I suggest 2 possible options

Option 1: Issue 15 year, zero coupon, Blue Poles backed bonds.  This would enable the government to retain ownership of the asset whilst generating cash to retire other coupon paying bonds. If, in 15 years, Blue Poles has appreciated the debt could be rolled over, if the asset has declined it could be liquated for bond holders.

Option 2: Transfer Blue Poles into an exchange traded fund.  This would enable Australians who value art to put their money where their mouth is. The management of the fund should be paid a 1.5% management fee and a 25% of any capital gain. This would generate $350 million in cash to retire debt, given historic returns, generate $14.87 million a year in management fees to the government, return $30.625 million for investors, and allow the Australian government to retain control of the asset.


2) Alexander Dowthwaite, 22

Reject the sale of Blue poles

It was Oscar Wilde who said that ‘In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing.’ This principle will remain as one of our key governmental policies henceforth. Australia is a country of great sincerity. We are a post-industrial, multicultural land of diversity and tolerance, but for all this, on the international stage we are still perceived merely as the domain of wombats and didgeridoos. To put it bluntly, we don’t have the cool factor. This cool factor is an increasingly important governmental consideration in our globalised world, and Australia is committed to investing in its coolness; now, and into the future. Competition is high; Russia is possessed of a judo chopping KGB agent, America has a weed toking, drone striking president, and even North Korea has a Hollywood B-movie styled super-villain. All of them are cool, while Australia lags behind. It is for this reason, that we must not pursue the short term thinking so well displayed in the sale of Jackson Pollock’s Blue Poles. Blue Poles is an Australian icon; it is the culmination of a cigarette-wheezing, alcoholic depressive’s life, is lauded by a select clique of critics, while remaining baffling to the eyes of plebeians, and is American. What could be cooler? Pursuing its sale at this stage would be catastrophic for our reputation. In return for a few millions, themselves easily raised from more worthy sources, such as by taxing the tobacco smokers, or the fatties, we are asked to surrender an artwork of international fame, renown and above all, coolness. A recent study has shown that five out of six Australians surveyed said that they would rather be cool than uncool. Are we going reject democracy, and go against the people’s will? Australia stands poised to increase its standing in the international community in this exciting, dynamic and growing field of coolness. We must invest in our future, and that means investing in what really matters, that is, style.

We reject the sale of Australia’s future, and remain committed to our goals of doubling coolness by 2050.


3) Candice Hooper, 25

‘I Dream of Blue Poles’

Now I’m no Senator but here’s the thing,

In my dream last night I gave the PM a ring.


I said, ‘Malcolm I don’t know much about art,

It’s all a bit fancy, I don’t know where to start.


‘But I can tell you one thing, so come in real close,

No battler cares about this Pollock bloke.’


The Prime Minister gasped, clearly taken aback,

For a second I thought he’d had a heart attack.


‘Have you no culture? No respect for the arts?

I’m not selling Blue Poles like used car parts.’


I said, ‘Prime Minister with all due respect,

We’re 470 billion dollars in debt!


‘I hope you can excuse me for being so bold,

but I’d like to see a surplus before I grow old.


‘Imagine the deficit in a downward dive?

Oh what a time to be alive!’


The PM sighed and took a deep breath,

‘This is the thing you uncultured don’t get.’


‘When people are unemployed or going broke,

Artwork like Blue Poles helps them to cope.’


That’s when it began to dawn on me,

I need not worry about the economy.


You see I understood then what I did not before,

We’re keeping Blue Poles to comfort the poor.

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