Monday, August 20, 2007

Preparing for the election: What's in it for authors?

Australia will go to the polls later in 2007, probably November. The issues for authors are quite clear -- more support for our livelihood from all parties.

One way of ensuring this has been suggested by the Australian Literature in Education Roundtable in Canberra on 7 August. That was a call for government financial support for the purchase of class sets of Australian literature for study in our schools. This would not only provide more support for the teaching of our literature in schools, it would have the practical benefit of providing royalties for authors and income for publishers.

We also need to ensure that awards, prizes and grants for authors are provided tax- free, in the same manner that Prime Minister Howard has flagged for the Prime Minister's Prize for History.

A third crucial point for Australian authors is increased funding for lending rights. This should also encompass the permanent funding of Educational Lending Right (ELR), with ELR linked to CPI increases, as applies to Public Lending Right (PLR).

But we need to make our view on these issues heard by our elected representatives and we need to make sure we have their support. This means we need to write to them.

The purchase of Australian books for schools requires interaction between the Arts and the Education portfolios. Senator Brandis is Minister for the Arts and Julie Bishop is Minister for Education. Peter Garrett is Shadow Minister for the Arts and Stephen Smith is Shadow Minister for Education.

Start your lobbying early!

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