At the afterparty for the 2019 Helpmann Awardsthere was plenty of chat about the fact that the new Australian play Counting and Cracking  had taken home seven awards including Best Production of a Play, while Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two – much awarded in London and New York – had won just one award for lighting.

Helpmann Awards Vaishnavi Suryaprakash and Sukania Venugopal in Counting and Cracking. Photograph © Brett Boardman

I heard someone, who fervently believed that  Harry Potter and the Cursed Child should have won Best Play, argue that there is far more public interest in the production than in any other play on stage in Australia right now, which may well be true but has little bearing; the Helpmann Awards are not popularity prizes. Others complained that it was a case of parochialism, a claim since echoed on social media, and not always by people who had actually seen  Counting and Cracking. One media report claimed that the Helpmanns had “snubbed” Harry Potter  and the Cursed Child.

In the past, Australia has...