Friday, November 9, 2007

What you can do for authors this election

The ASA has a number of concerns related to authors that we feel our politicians should address. We encourage members to take up these issues with their local member and the leaders of the major parties. Members can find contact details for their Federal parliamentarians here.

Traditional mail still works the best. Emails are a less effective means of registering your concerns with your parliamentarian or with our leaders. A key aspect of letters is that they reflect your individuality. Form letters or letters repeating the same phrases don’t carry the same weight as a letter from a concerned elector. If you are in a swinging seat, contact both the sitting Member and the candidate from the other party. Send copies to the party leaders, Mr Howard, Mr Rudd, Senator Brown, Senator Fielding and Senator Allison. Use your writing skills!

Educational Lending Right/Public Lending Right

The Greens, the Democrats, Labor and the Coalition have all committed to ongoing funding for Educational Lending Right (ELR). The Greens and the Democrats have also accepted the ASA’s proposal that ELR funding be increased and indexed (the details can be read on the ASA site here). Neither Labor nor the Coalition have as yet committed to any level of funding for ELR, nor have either party endorsed the ASA’s proposal to increase funding for ELR to $16 million and have it subject to WCI6 indexation. The ASA also calls for the Public Lending Right pool to be increased to $10 million. If you are in safe seat, send a letter to your local Member encouraging them to support the ASA’s proposals. Stress how valuable Lending Rights payments are to authors whose income is otherwise precarious. If you are in a swinging seat, you'll need to be more proactive and write to at least the two candidates most likely to win.

Literature in Education

The ASA has welcomed moves by the NSW Minister for Education and the WA Department of Education to strengthen the study of Australian literature. We have long advocated the study of Australian literature as a means of providing a sense of cultural identity, insight into our diversity and knowledge of our unique place in the world. Literature presents many perspectives on life, powerfully imagined and memorably expressed, and that exposure to this variety of ways of thinking about the world is one of the main benefits of literary study, particularly in a multicultural and diverse society such as ours.
It is important that all our Federal politicians commit to ongoing support for the teaching and use of Australian literature in ours schools. The Federal Government can do such things as fund the purchase of books for schools that use class sets. The teaching and study of Australian literature in schools and universities contributes to the domestic publishing industry and helps to support Australian writers. Australia’s literature, along with its history, has an important role in schools and universities in helping people understand and appreciate the Australian imagination.

Tax free awards and grants for artists

Motivated by Prime Minister John’s Howard’s move to make his $100,000 Award for History tax-exempt, the ASA calls for the removal of tax liability for literary prizes as one way of improving the level of financial support to Australian writers. Grants from the Australia Council would be included.

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