Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Productivity Commission gets it wrong

I am angry! I am amazed... I am at a loss to explain the reasons why the Productivity Commission has failed to take any notice of the 100s of submissions sent to them from concerned Australians .

Instead the Productivity Commission has published its report to the Government recommending that the current restrictions on the parallel importation of books be lifted.

(The current laws state that if a book is written, designed, edited and published by an Australian, an overseas publisher cannot sell their edition of it here. If it is produced overseas, Australian publishers must publish it here within 30 days of its foreign release, or it can be "parallel imported".)

Most at risk from the lifting of these restrictions are Australian published books, specifically children’s books, their readers, and the workers involved in their publication.

For this reason I strongly disagree with the Productivity Commission’s recommendations and wish to make the following points:

The USA, UK and Canada do maintain territorial copyright and restrict the parallel importation of books.

Foreign publishers will flood the Australian market with foreign edited versions of Australian books. These are called ‘remainders’. These remainders will undercut the Australian editions.


Small publishers will struggle and close, larger publishers will likely move off shore.


Jobs will be lost in publishing, printing, editing, marketing, distributing, bookselling, writing and illustrating books.


Independent booksellers (30% of the market) will be unable to compete with the multinationals. (Sound familiar?)


Resulting in fewer Australian books being published and our unique Australian culture will be put at risk.


There will be less choice for the Australian reader. The multinational booksellers will decide what they offer us. (Coles, Woolworths, Target, K-mart, Big W, Dymocks, Borders etc. are behind the push for the lift of PIR’s)


Quality Australian books will increase in price not fall, like a fine wine no one can afford.


Publishers will not invest in new talent. ie There will be no one to replace Mem Fox.


Australian children need books that reflect their world, their culture and history.

The effect on our children and students:

Foreign published ‘remaindered’ editions of Australian children’s books will be ‘dumped’ here. These will have been edited with American spelling and idiom. Eg. Ute > Pick-up, footpath > sidewalk, footie > gridiron etc.


With diminished opportunities here, Australian children’s authors will be forced to de-Australianise their writing to suit the global market. Kate Grenville said: “If I had said no, I would never have been published overseas.”


Australian publishers will be unable to afford to invest in new picture books and new authors. Yes, no new Possum Magic.


Foreign editions will end up replacing the Australian editions, as fewer Publishers continue to invest in Australian talent..


Australian children already struggling with reading and spelling will be further confused with the foreign editions.


Australian humour in books will be edited out because the foreign market will not understand our jokes. This will then be sold back to us.

Our children need to develop a strong sense of self and an identity of who they are as Australians. Australian books by Australian authors, which display Australian content with Australian spelling and reflect Australian social and cultural values and indigenous beliefs are one of the few sources still available to them. Young people are already bombarded with more than enough popular American culture and language in the forms of music, movies and food without taking away the only resource left to them which reflects who they are – Aussie books.


Worth reading is the closing address by Richard Flanagan at the recent Sydney Writers Festival www.randomhouse.com.au/editor/documents/richardflanagansydneytalk.pdf). Flanagan says this issue is about Australians' rights and our need to have our own stories in our own voice.

What you can do now:


· Write to Kevin Rudd http://www.pm.gov.au/ and your local member before this becomes law.
Please feel free to use any of the above.


You may also like to read through some of the submissions to the Productivity Commission at www.pc.gov.au/projects/study/books (Two of them are mine)

I have to go now and have a herbal calmative...........fuming steam escapes my ears



5 comments:

Sheryl Gwyther said...

Very comprehensive blog, Angela. You've covered everything in a clear, concise way. And I'm still as mad as hell, but we won't give up this fight to save Australian children's books and authors for the future.

Maree Kimberley said...

I am so depressed about this :( I wrote to krudd the other day & am tweeting. Will try & get a few letters out this weekend.

Sally Murphy said...

Well said, ANgela. Don't despair - we still have fight left in us.

Wilson Super Sheep said...

im angry.
so angry ive had to start my own blog.
yet to post. x

Angela Sunde. said...

Thanks everyone. New post going up today.