For those of you who have been following the government's attempts to change the laws governing the parallel importation of books, the Labor party has recently come out strongly in favour of opposing the changes that they and many others believe will have disastrous effects on the Australian publishing industry and the ability of the companies, authors and illustrators to survive.
On Friday Dec 9, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, Shadow Minister for the Arts Tony Burke and Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus were joined by our authors, Tom Keneally and Anna Funder, at Ligare Printers in Sydney to officially announce Labor’s commitment to territorial copyright for books. Their stance supports local authors and publishers in opposing the changes to parallel import restrictions on books in order to protect Australia’s vibrant book industry.
On Thursday, Bill Shorten wrote to Louise Adler, President of Australian Publishers Association, saying, “Taking into consideration the economic and cultural impacts of such a change, we have now finalised a position. Labor will not support the government’s attempts to repeal parallel import restrictions.” This is heartening news as it looks unlikely that the Government will have the support it needs if it decides to go to legislation. Labor has also gone on record to say that any changes to the current system would “undercut Australia’s flourishing publishing industry, which nurtures local authors who produce the stories which are so meaningful to Australians”.
We also have reason to believe that the Productivity Commission Report will now be released just before Christmas. Its content will be, as we suspected (in favour of repealing PIR), but it has been strongly indicated that the Government won’t proceed with their recommendations. Given we are in a strong position on this issue, the APA will be responding in a measured manner that is careful not to align the Government with the Productivity Commission report. This response needs to be strategic, mindful and exercise caution as we don’t want the activity we undertake as an industry to result in the Government changing its mind and legislating.
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This is great news and we'll keep you updated.
The SCBWI leadership team