Hopes parallel importation will not pass the Senate

Hopes parallel importation will not pass the Senate


Right: Hannah Kent presents ASA petition to Tony Burke MP.

In early November, the ASA petition against the parallel importation of books, boasting nearly 20,000 signatures from authors, illustrators, publishers, editors, literary agents, printers and book-lovers, was mailed to all 225 Australian Federal MPs and Senators.

At the same time, delegates from the ASA, APA (Australian Publishers Association), ABA (Australian Booksellers Association) and the AAPI (Association of Australian Printing Industries) acommpanied authors Hannah Kent, Andy Griffiths, Magda Szubanski and Jackie French to Parliament House for a formal presentation of the petition to Labor MP Tony Burke.

Tony Burke MP and Andy Griffiths

The delegation spent three days traversing Parliament House, meeting with more than 20 MPs and Senators from all parties to speak against the Productivity Commission's mission to make sweeping changes to the Copyright Act, based on out-of-date information and a very close-minded approach. The culmination of our 2016 Books Create campaign, this was the first time the book industry has spoken with one voice on the issues of territorial copyright and "fair use". And our message was effective and powerful as a result. Our delegation reminded those in Canberra that the book industry:

  • Generates $2 billion in revenue for the Australian economy,
  • Employs more than 60,000 people across every facet of the supply chain,
  • Invests more than $120 million in Australian writers each year and
  • Publishes more than 7,000 books every year.
  • The delegation was met with a reassuring level of understanding and support, and while the economic ideologues remained immune to arguments concerning the importance of books for our culture and national identity, they were more open to considering the potential for job losses and threats to the financial viability of our industry.

Right to left: Jackie French, Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore, Nick Xenophon and Andy Griffiths.

The Productivity Commission final report is due to be tabled in Parliament by February 2017 at the latest and is unlikely to differ significantly from the draft report in either tone or conclusion. However, we remain hopeful that legislative changes will not get through the Senate and that territorial copyright will once again be preserved. The "fair use" debate is likely to be a more complex and drawn-out affair. For that reason, effective advocacy on behalf of authors will remain at the top of the ASA's to-do list in 2017.

We at the ASA would like to thank you, our members, for your tweets and Facebook posts raising public awareness, your signatures on our petition, and for your emails, letters and face-to-face meetings with politicians. It has been enormously helpful and much appreciated.

Tags: Parallel importation

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