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Premier’s Literary Award rules “bent” to allow Manus Island refugee to enter

The administrator of the Premier’s Literary Award insists there’s no politics in allowing a non-Australian to enter the awards for Australian writers.

The awards, held tonight, cover seven categories, the winners of each get $25,000 and then compete for the Victorian Prize for Literature – that’s $100,000.

Manus Island refugee Behrouz Boochani’s book No friend but the mountains, is in the running for the non-fiction category.

Michael Williams, Director of the Wheeler Centre, told Neil Mitchell the rules surrounding the birthplace of authors have been “bent” to include Boochani.

“His book is only published in Australia, whether we like it or not it’s a quintessentially Australian story,” Mr Williams said.

“We weighed it up and found it supported the spirit of the award.”

NEIL: It does a look a bit like virtue signalling.

MR. WILLIAMS: As the administrator of the award, that’s my primary concern. This is an extraordinary book.

NEIL: You’re insisting there’s no politics in this at all?

MR. WILLIAMS: None at all.

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