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Thursday, 26 November 2009
Page: 9008

Senator CHRIS EVANS (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship) (1:06 PM) —I thank senators for their contributions to the debate on the Resale Royalty Right for Visual Artists Bill 2009 and the cognate bill, and the opportunities taken by senators to reflect on related matters. Can I indicate on behalf of the government that we will not be supporting the Greens second reading amendment. Nor will we be supporting the amendments to the bill circulated in the chamber. I understand the interest senators have in this issue—it is one that I have had some involvement with—but I think it is fair to say that this has been a difficult and long-running issue that has not been addressed. This government went to the last election with a commitment to addressing the issue and we are delivering on that commitment by introducing this bill.

Some of the criticisms that Senator Milne and others make effectively say the bill ought to go further. We are saying we think this is what is possible at this time, this is what is sensible and this is what meets the legal advice we have had regarding the issue of prospective versus retrospective application. We have consulted widely in trying to bring in what I think is a really important reform to resale royalties for visual artists. We think the bill will be a major benefit to them over the years to come and is an appropriate policy response.

Obviously, experience of the legislation in practice may lead us to look to make amendments or deal with emerging issues, but sometimes the debate in here is along the lines of, ‘Our view is it ought to do all these other things as well, and therefore we want to be critical.’ I think what we have to do on this occasion is to say that this is a commitment the government made and it is a commitment we are honouring. There has been bipartisan, cross-party support for doing something in this area, but it has been talked about for many years and has not happened. This government has got on with it and had a go. We think the bill is one that has come out of a proper process of consultation and advice and we think it ought to be passed by the parliament.

We appreciate the support and I appreciate that it has been dealt with in non-controversial legislation time, despite the keen interest Senator Milne and others have in the issue. But we think passing it today will allow us to make a policy start in this area that is long overdue. We think this bill will provide benefits, and of course it is always open to us to come back and address some of the things that Senator Milne and others might argue ought to also be addressed. But this will address that fundamental issue of providing some resale royalty rights to Australia’s visual artists. So I commend the bill to the chamber and indicate that we will not be supporting either the second reading amendment from the Greens or their amendments in the committee stage. I will not necessarily speak again on the basis of the time constraints.

Question negatived.

Original question agreed to.

Bills read a second time.