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Monday, 7 September 2009
Page: 8790

Mr RAGUSE (5:51 PM) —I rise to speak in support of the Resale Royalty Right for Visual Artists Bill 2008. I am pleased to be able to speak on this ground-breaking legislation that fundamentally alters the way that visual art is bought and sold in Australia. Currently, any economic gain by an artist from a piece of art is limited to proceeds from the original sale. Once the item is sold the original artist cannot receive any further financial benefit from that item. This legislation proposes that artists receive a flat five per cent of the sale price every time a piece of art is resold. It recognises and continues to reward the intellectual property that is part of all pieces of visual art. The resale royalty right is to last for as long as copyright currently lasts, which is life plus 70 years. This will provide a benefit not only to the original artists but also to their families and heirs.

Resale royalty rights are to apply to all commercial resale of original works of over $1,000 from when the legislation takes effect. This is to moderate the administrative costs involved with the system. To be eligible, a potential right holder must be an Australian citizen, a permanent resident of Australia, or a national or citizen of a country where a reciprocal agreement is in place. The government has recognised that there will remain an administrative cost implicit in the system. Therefore, $1.5 million has been allocated to fund the implementation of the resale royalty scheme. There are significant options open for reciprocal agreements with other countries that have resale rights in place for visual artists. Many countries have already recognised the value of resale royalty rights and more than 30 countries have schemes in place, including the UK, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France and New Zealand.

There are controversies that exist with any piece of legislation, and discussions on the resale royalty rights for visual artists in Australia on previous occasions have been controversial. Opponents have argued that the main beneficiaries will be popular artists, that the scheme is inherently difficult with administrative costs, that art is often owned for a significant length of time, that the system differs from accepted notions of property ownership, and that collectors may hesitate to purchase works where resale rights still apply. That said, in my electorate of Forde we have amazing community and cultural groups, including Indigenous groups, and a developing art community in places like Tamborine Mountain. The implementation of resale royalty rights for visual artists will bring to fruition another 2007 election policy that I stood proudly behind as a candidate for Forde. From the rainforests of Lamington National Park to the sweeping mountainous views of Tamborine Mountain, if you can get the imagery, to the picturesque farming lands around Beaudesert, the beauty of Forde has long attracted visual artists to the local area—

Mr Ciobo interjecting

Mr RAGUSE —and from where the member for Moncrieff sits in his office I am sure he can look across at the Gold Coast hinterland and wish that he could have his corflute not only on the coast, on the beach, but also on Tamborine Mountain. Tamborine Mountain holds a regular quality arts market, which I have enjoyed attending for a number of years, at the Tamborine Mountain showground. Numerous art galleries adorn areas like Eagle Heights and attract significant numbers of tourists each year, as does the well-known Gallery Walk, which is part of the Tamborine Mountain experience. Many visual art, hobby and social art groups can be found across Forde, including groups like the Beaudesert Camera Club, the Beenleigh Craft Group, the Beenleigh Lapidary Club, Logan Artists Association and Tamborine Mountain Creative Arts.

The Scenic Rim Regional Council, once known as the Beaudesert council, takes an active role in supporting artists and has an appreciation of the arts in the southern parts of Forde. Among other services, the Centre for Scenic Rim Arts and Culture at Beaudesert provides a modern hub for local artists. In 2008, the centre launched an open art studio trail for the Scenic Rim, featuring many local artists and craftspersons operating in the local area. The open studio arts trails were so successful that they are planned to be an annual event. The Scenic Rim Regional Arts Development Fund, Scenic Rim Regional Council and Queensland state government partnership is currently seeking applications from local artists, and funding is available for professional development workshops and the arts and cultural research projects.

Of course, one of the benefits of this legislation—and other speakers have spoken about it—is that it will assist the Indigenous community, the culture that has developed around them and their art, which explores and explains their Dreamtime in a visual sense. In my electorate of Forde, the Yugambeh nation and other Indigenous people have a very strong, rich and wonderful cultural history to be told. They talk about the Dreamtime and reflect that in some of their sculptures and paintings in areas like Tullamore, which has the Dreamtime stories of the sleeping Ilbogan serpent. If you ever go to the Beaudesert Race Club you cross an old bridge called the Ilbogan bridge. The serpent and lagoon are a very significant part of their Dreamtime.

The Scenic Rim Regional Council has been involved for many years in the rural sector’s industry. I must reflect my experiences in growing up in Queensland during a period of interesting political times at the state level. We had a Premier who was once challenged on his understanding of culture. He was asked, ‘Do you understand culture?’ and of course he said, ‘I have, we have, we do have lots and lots of culture—we have agriculture, aquaculture, horticulture.’ In jest, the reality is of course that he was reflecting on the fact that Queensland is an interesting place and our arts history and our culture are very strong. Areas of Beaudesert in the old Beaudesert shire show that there is a need to capture that visual history either in art form or in other forms.

I am pleased to see the member for Moncrieff here because I believe that he is very supportive of this bill. The government prior to ours, the Howard government, could never quite get to the point of resolving the issue, and I am very pleased that we have now brought it to this chamber. I will be very keen to hear the member for Moncrieff’s input on this particularly important piece of legislation.

This is not directly related to the bill, but, with the draft redistribution, the seat of Forde is going to lose many parts of this beautiful Scenic Rim area. I hope that those who follow after I move to the new boundaries, if so elected, have just as much input into, concern for and resolve in the area. If a conservative member takes on the area, I hope that they also understand the importance of the legislation that we are putting in place. Members in this chamber for this debate certainly support what the government is trying to achieve with this particular legislation.

In conclusion, resale royalty rights are a positive move forward for artists in Australia. These changes will provide a tangible benefit to artists, particularly those whose works sell for low prices initially or who are only recognised later in their career. It is a very important piece of legislation and I commend it to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.