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Monday, 29 November 2004
Page: 22

Ms PLIBERSEK (1:54 PM) —I rise today because I have been presented with a petition from 1,622 local artists calling for the fair treatment of artists. It is fair to say that the contribution of artists is often overlooked in the Australian community. As for so many people who undertake work that they truly love, often the remuneration is simply not there; they are expected to work for love. These 1,622 artists ask that—instead of being expected to fulfil the cliche of the starving artist—consistent with the recommendations of the Myer report, they are properly remunerated for some of the work they do.

When the coalition government was first elected in 1996, a mandatory fee that was usually paid to artists who were exhibiting in publicly funded galleries was withdrawn. That has made an enormous difference to the income of the average artist. The artists who signed the petition want to see that fee reinstated, consistent with the recommendations of the Myer report. It is worth remembering that the median income for artists in 2000-01 was about $18,500. That of course includes some—very few—very highly paid artists. This is just above the poverty line. We need to work together to ensure that artists no longer fulfil the cliche of the starving artist.