by Sheryl Gwyther
The decision by the Federal Australian Labor Party to throw out the Productivity Commission’s recommendations was a victory for those who support the integrity of Australian authored and published books. But with all the ranting and raving by commentators in The Australian and some other newspapers you’d swear it will cause the demise of our economy.
Australian authors, illustrators, publishers, printers et al celebrated last week, but if we care about this industry it behoves us all to be vigilant because there will be no let-up from those who continue to push for total deregulation of Australian industries – including the publishing industry. (I must add that, while I’m voicing my opinion here I’m not Robinson Crusoe.)
We’ve allowed this to happen to other Australian industries in the past – in textiles, cars, petrol, shoes and food, and many Australian manufacturing and primary industries have gone to the wall. I urge you to read some of the articles from Ross Gittins, economics editor from the Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/no-such-thing-as-a-free-market-20090908-fg2o.html
We have the right to ask a pertinent question … what good has free-marketeering done for Australia already? We still face higher prices and lack of choice in supermarkets. Are clothes any better made now they pour in from Asian sweat-shops, and are good-quality shoes cheaper?
Some will call this a simplistic view of economies. But non-economists, ordinary Australians can only judge and decide on what we experience now.
In The Australian on Friday Nov 17, Peter Donoughue, a Parallel Importation supporter and publishing commentator, said – ‘the campaign against the reforms had been based on a “big lie” … and that … “the Australian book-buyer shouldn’t have to put up with high prices unrelated to today’s exchange rates, frequent out-of-stocks and slow delivery times.”
Given that the Aussie dollar exchange rate has reached amazing heights against the US dollar for well over six weeks, overseas orders would’ve been purchased at a much cheaper rate. If so, why haven’t bookshops passed on the savings by reducing their prices on overseas books sold in Australia now?
The threat of Parallel Imports of books won’t magically disappear any time soon. It is vexing is for all involved in this industry, including authors. But it also concerns many Australian readers – we know that because of the animated, passionate and concerned comments they’ve added to the SAB’s online petition.
For this reason, the SAVING AUSSIE BOOKS blog and campaign remains open.