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Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Page: 5637

Mr GARRETT (Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts) (11:42 AM) —I thank the member for Moncrieff for taking an interest in the appropriations and in this policy area. I certainly look forward to continuing to engage with him on these issues which we, on this side of the chamber, take very seriously—the provision of adequate resources for the cultural communities of Australia, to enrich our lives and to build sustainability in their career paths—as they do.

I will return to the specific questions that the member has asked me in a second. I will first just quickly deal with his queries about the Cooper report. I have got the relevant minister, Minister Bowen, sitting right next to me. It is a draft set of recommendations. The full set of recommendations has not yet been considered by the government—

Mr Bowen —They haven’t even been handed to the government.

Mr GARRETT —They have not yet been handed to the government, I am advised. We will consider that full set of recommendations which, I understand, will be delivered in the next month or so. In doing that, we will be mindful of the impact that any recommendations may have on the viability of Australia’s arts sector. We will be mindful of that, and I intend to meet with representatives from the sector in the coming weeks. We want to hear their concerns. We are aware that they are concerned about it. But I would simply stress: all we have in front of us at the moment are draft recommendations, and until there is a full and formal set of recommendations in front of the government, and the government has determined its response, that would be sufficient in terms of my reply to his question.

I completely refute and reject the suggestion by the member for Moncrieff that the resale royalty scheme will not work effectively either now or in the long term. I say that as someone who has had an interest in small business over time and would recognise that any small business that is responsible for the accurate maintenance of record-keeping—in relation to whatever business it is involved in—will be able to effectively discharge the responsibilities under this scheme: that is, to log the price of a piece of work and the name of the artist and ensure that Copyright Agency Ltd is informed of such. Copyright Agency Ltd, which will be responsible for the administration of this scheme, was chosen after a careful evaluation, a tendering process conducted at arm’s length from me, and I am very confident that it will be able to effectively discharge this scheme.

It is not true, as the member suggests, that everybody is up in arms about the resale royalty scheme. In fact, artists have supported this scheme, and there is a very good reason why they should. This is the first time that Australia’s visual artists will have a royalty. Hitherto, composers, authors and photographers have had royalty opportunities by way of copyright. Why have visual artists been left out in the dark? The reason is that when the coalition were in government they refused to take up the recommendations of the Myer report, by Mr Rupert Myer, for the introduction of a resale royalty scheme. The reason is that Michael Kroger was enlisted by the galleries who had objections to this scheme to come up here to Canberra and derail that scheme. I know for a fact that there were many on that side of the House who were supportive—and, by the way, I welcome the ultimate support of the member and the coalition for this scheme. I am very confident that we are going to be able to discharge this scheme in a way which is economically effective and delivers the benefits that are necessary for Aboriginal artists as a whole.

We also have organisations like NAVA and like Desart, stakeholder organisations, peak bodies, which recognise how important it is at this point in time for Indigenous artists particularly and Australian artists as a whole to start receiving an appropriate benefit for their work. I have to say that this is one of the most important and significant reforms that this government has brought forward. I am very proud of it and I am very confident of its success.

Finally, I will deal with the question of prudence in relation to bringing down a budget. We are very supportive of what is happening at the National Gallery and have provided significant funding opportunities for the refurbishment work that is taking place at the Gallery. I think this is going to be a wonderful boon to the national capital and to that jurisdiction, which sees the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the High Court, the National Library and the like being wonderful places for the repository of the country’s culture but also fantastic places for people to visit when they come to the national capital. This government has been very, very supportive of those institutions, and that is reflected in this budget. I was especially pleased to see the success that the National Gallery had with the Masterpieces from Paris exhibition, which many Australians came to visit—a tremendous success because of the government’s support. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mrs MA May)—Order! The time for the debate has concluded.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Human Services Portfolio

Proposed expenditure, $3,827,233,000