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Thursday, 25 May 1972
Page: 2161

Senator LITTLE asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:

(1)   Does the Commonwealth pay book bounty on locally produced books of one quarter of the cost of production of each book.

(2)   Has the Commonwealth already paid book bounty on so-called sex manuals such as 'Intercourse', 'Ways of Loving' and 'Call Girl'; if so, what is (a) the cost of production per book, (b) the amount of bounty paid per book, and (c) the retail price of each book.

(3)   Can the Minister confirm reports that his Department has given verbal approval for book bountyto be paid on 'The Little Red Schoolbook', and that its estimated cost of production, on which bounty will be paid, is 19 cents per copy, and that its retail price is $1.75.

(4)   Can book bounty be refused on a book which is blasphemous, indecent or obscene or unduly emphasises matters of sex, horror, violence or crime, or is likely to encourage depravity.

(5)   Does the Minister consider that 'The Little Red School book', and the so-called sex manuals listed above, merit book bounties of 25 per cent of the cost of production paid out of the taxpayer's money when there is such a large margin between costs and retail price.

Senator COTTON- The Minister for Customs and Excise has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1)   Yes. Under the Book Bounty Act bounty may be paid on a book containing 49 or more printed or illustrated pages, which must not contain certain advertising, and which is printed and bound in Australia other than by the Commonwealth or a State.

The Act provides that bounty is not payable in respect of a book if the printing or publishing of the book by a person, or the sending by a person of the book through the post, constitutes or would constitute an offence by the person against a law of the Commonwealth.

(2)   Yes. It has also refused bounty on a number of books, including 'Lesbian Capers', 'Jay Birds in Love', 'Weekend Love' and 'Girls in Love'.

(a)   and (b) The Book Bounty Act provides for an annual return to Parliament showing the number of books produced each year on which bounty has been paid or is payable, the name, address and the amount of bounty paid or payable to each claimant. The particulars sought by the honourable senator are confidential between the printer and the Department of Customs and Excise.

(c)   The retail price is not a factor in book bounty and therefore this information is not available from the Department.

(3)   Book bounty has been paid on a first printing of 'The Little Red Schoolbook'. Applications for payment of bounty on further printings are pending.

(4)   See answer (1) above.

(5)   The book bounty is a temporary measure designed to assist the Australian book production industry pending the completion of a Tariff Board inquiry into the industry. It is not designed to assist publishers. Payment of bounty is in no way related to the merit of the book. Bounty has been paid on the production of every type of book, including cheap, badly-written detective stories and trashy romances; merit, literary or otherwise, is simply not relevant. The Book Bounty Act is not an instrument of censorship and moral attitudes arc not taken into account in the consideration for bounty purposes of a book which satisfies all the criteria for bounty payment.

The intention of the book bounty is to keep the printing of Australian-produced books within the Australian industry. If bounty were refused on books on which there was no bar to importation the result would be that the book would either be imported or printed for an Australian publisher in Hong Kong or some other low cost country. In either case the effect would beloss of work for the Australian printing industry.

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