Guest blogger: Sheryl Gwyther author
Under the spotlight : The Productivity Commission’s Three Recommendations are now being considered by a carefully-selected Working Party in government.
On the 17th September the Working Party will present their findings to the Federal Government – a decision that will affect the future of Australian books and the many connecting industries.
All three Recommendations have the potention to damage the production of future Australian-authored books.
PRODUCTIVITY COMMISSION’S RECOMMENDATION 1 …
The Government should repeal Australia’s Parallel Import Restrictions (PIRs) for books. The repeal should take effect three years after the date that it is announced.
RECOMMENDATION 2 …
The Government should, as soon as possible, review the current subsidies aimed at encouraging Australian writing and publishing, with a view to better targeting of cultural externalities. Any revised arrangements should be put in place before the repeal of the PIRs takes effect.
Presently, the Federal Government commits to recognising the importance of the ARTS and CREATIVITY in encouraging a fully-rounded Australian society.
It does this through the Grants, Fellowships and Subsidies from the Australia Council for worthy projects. And these are hotly contested.
The PC’s Recommendation 2 will force all Australian writers to go cap-in-hand begging from the Australian taxpayer just so they can continue to write. If you’re writing a romance or a murder mystery you can’t access a grant.
So what happens to those authors who will lose out when publishers can’t afford to take them on, AND they can’t access Australia Council grants? Has the Productivity Commission even considered this?
Recommendation 2 seems as though it was stuck on to appease authors – well, guess what, it doesn’t!
RECOMMENDATION 3 …
The outcome from the repeal of the PIRs and any revised subsidy arrangements should be monitored and assessed five years after implementation. To assist that assessment, the Australian Bureau of Statistics should, as soon as possible, undertake a revised version of its 2003-04 surveys on the books industry and market, having regard to the information gaps and interpretation problems identified in this study and relevant data held by other agencies. It should then update these revised surveys prior to the commencement of the five year assessment.
This should have been done before the Productivity Commission even sat down at their table to pick over the bones of the Restrictions against Parallel Importation of Books. How could they have made their decisions without even using current and up-to-date data?
Hopefully the Working Party will see through the Productivity Commission’s conclusions and conclude for themselves that the PC’s wordy report is not even worth the thousands of tax-payers’ dollars it took to print it out.