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Bill Leak - still having the last laugh

Friday, 09 March 2018

Bill Leak - still having the last laugh

In anticipation of tomorrow’s first anniversary of the death of the great cartoonist and artist Bill Leak - a friend of ours as well as the Menzies Research Centre - we revisited some of the deplorable vitriol that was published in the days that followed his fatal heart attack.

Leak was “a holdover of the postcolonial late 20th century bigotry which has so effectively marginalised, cajoled, and bullied our most vulnerable citizens,” wrote Patrick Marlborough on Vice within hours of the news breaking. “He was  just a middling cartoonist with a bad heart.”

“Bill Leak was a racist,” wrote Michael Brull on New Matilda a few days later. “Take a look through his cartoons, and you’ll see how boring his work was.”

Add these insightful analyses to the piles of complaints about his work made while he was still alive. They are testimony to his instinct for skewering flawed ideas and pompous sanctimony.

His two leading - and highest paid - detractors were of course Gillian Triggs and Tim Soutphommasane, of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Where are they now? MRC Executive Director Nick Cater ponders their fortunes against Leak’s growing posthumous adoration in tomorrow’s Weekend Australian online. Here is a sample:

Whatever hidden talents his nemeses may display later in life, we can be confident that the reputations of Triggs or Soutphommasane will not survive much beyond their deaths.

Leak’s contribution is immortal; theirs amounts to little more than the shuffling of bureaucrats assigned pointless tasks, noisy but insignificant cogs in a lumbering machine thirsty for taxpayers funds.

Leak’s foremost contribution was as an artist, writer and critic of modern art, most of which he held in contempt... We can confidently predict that the notoriety that came in the final years of his life will ultimately be seen as a footnote to a brilliant career.

Read the full story here.

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