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Wednesday, 30 May 1973
Page: 2857

Mr KELLY (Wakefield) - The Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly), when introducing this Bill, mentioned that it was to continue a process that was set in motion by the previous Government to pay a bounty rather than impose a tariff on books. Obviously the idea, quite rightly, was that it would not increase the price of books; it would not impose a tax on knowledge. I am glad to see that the present Government has continued this lineof thinking. There are several things about the bounty that should be mentioned. One is that it is needed because of the high cost of publishing books in Australia. This cost has 2 components. One is the cost of the paper on which the books are printed.

This is one of the unfortunate results of our tariff system; it increases the cost of the raw material, so to speak, and increases the cost of printing.

The second element in the costs that make this bounty necessary is the wages cost. This cost of course is higher in our country than in others and is likely to be higher still. I have before me a log of claims put out by the Printing and Kindred Industries Union. It sets out the way in which the union expects to be treated. If these claims are granted there will be need for a very greatly increased bounty. - Let me give some examples. The union is asking that an employee should be paid weekly by his employer for all time occupied by the employee in travelling to and from work, and that all fares for travel be paid in addition. If a chap goes to and from work by car it is claimed that he should be paid, in addition to payment for the time taken, 30c a mile for travel either way.

There are many other quite startling claims which, if granted, will inevitably increase the need for an increased bounty. The Union claims that an employee should without loss of pay be allowed by his employer compassionate leave of 7 consecutive days in connection with the death of a husband, wife, next of kin, or any other relatives. We can imagine the rush of mother-in-law deaths we would have about test match time if that kind of thing were accepted. The Union is asking that a female employee who becomes pregnant be given 6 months' leave, 3 months before and 3 months after the birth. It does not mention how the father is to be treated. It is asking for a 30-hour week. If this kind of thing is continued the bounty we will be passing in this House, and which the Opposition will be supporting will inevitably have to be increased.

There are other aspects of the industry that I think I should mention because they are relevant to the need for bounty protection. I am using as my source of information an article by Max Harris. It deals with the arrangements between the British and the United States publishers which make it very difficult indeed for the main sections of the Australian publishing industry. It centres on an arrangement whereby an American publisher sells the copyright to a book to a British publisher. This means that the book cannot be exported directly from the United States to Australia. I quote from Mr Max Harris's article in which he sets out the kind of damage that this does to the industry:

It became almost a law of life that Australia could only purchase British editions, and that Australia could only publish nationally books of Australian authorship. Booksellers looked wistfully at American publishing lists and the invariable code letters OBE.

That does not stand for the Order of the British Empire; it means outside the British Empire. He goes on:

This meant that the American book could not be supplied to Australia because a UK publisher had taken up the copyright option to issue an edition which sometimes eventuated, sometimes didn't.

This is an important barrier to the Australian publishing industry. Let me give some examples, and I quote again from this article by Mr Harris:

Charles Mountford's 'Oceania, Australia', an important text on the art of our region, was published by Methuen in London. The title went out of print. Methuen are unlikely ever to reprint it. However, the American edition of a major volume on our Aboriginal art survived and was largely unsellable in the U.S.A. But the New York suppliers could not sell the copies to Australia, where the book is essential, because Methuen held the copyright.

He gives many other examples which show the difficulties of the Australian publishing industry of which I think we ought to be aware on this occasion. Let me again quote directly from his article:

Let me cite an everyday example. For the past six months you can buy a paperback of 'Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee' in France, Israel, India, Greece, Hong Kong, or the U.S.A. The title was potentially a gigantic bestseller in Australia. It was not the Englishman's cup of tea. A U.K. paperback may eventuate. We don't know when. What we do know is that if an Australian publisher had been able to bid for and produce a paperback for this country late last year he would have sold about 50,000 copies. The Australian publisher would have profited, the author would have earned sizable extra royalties, and the original U.S.A. publisher would have done better by negotiating a separate deal for a U.K. and an Australian edition.

But the British system is one of united blackmail. The British Publishers Association will not, by private joint agreement, purchase copyright just for the U.K.

There are many examples of this restrictive trade practice in operation. There is no doubt that it bears heavily on the Australian publishing industry or certainly those sectors of it that are not overseas owned, particularly in the United Kingdom. I ask the Minister when he is looking at this matter again to be aware of the concern that is felt by a great many people, including myself, about this practice. I will not say anything more about it except that the Bill before us continues the practice of the previous government in assuring that there is not a tax on knowledge. We are awaiting the Tariff Board report on this matter with great interest. The Opposition supports the Bill.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

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