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Parties outline arts, copyright commitments at election debate

Federal Arts Minister Mitch Fifield was joined by shadow Arts Minister Mark Dreyfus and Australian Greens Party arts spokesperson Adam Bandt for an arts election debate at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne on 8 June, hosted by Patricia Karvelas.

Each speaker was given five minutes to outline their plan for making their ‘vision for Australia’s arts and culture’ happen. Fifield challenged the arts sector to ‘come together with a common vision’, drawing a comparison to the way disparate stakeholders in the disability sector came together to lobby for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. ‘I want to work with you to bring the arts to the centre of the innovation industry,’ said Fifield. ‘I’m a minister open to being shaped by people inside the room, and outside the room.’

Dreyfus described Labor as the ‘party for the arts’ and restated details from the party’s arts policy launch on 4 June, including returning funding to the Australia Council. ‘We do not support the creation of a ministerial slush fund, whatever it is called,’ said Dreyfus. ‘We will return whatever is unspent from the fund that is presently called Catalyst and shut it down.’

Bandt spoke about the Greens’ arts policy, which includes additional funding for the Australia Council and a ‘create for the dole’ program.

On the subject of copyright reform, Fifield reaffirmed the government’s intention to remove parallel importation restrictions (PIRs) but said it did not have a specific timeframe for their removal. ‘We want to consult with the sector on transitional arrangements,’ said Fifield.

Dreyfus, after noting that Labor legislated for PIRs in 1990 and rejected an attempt by the Productivity Commission to repeal PIRs in 2009, said: ‘We will treat with tremendous caution any suggestion that the current regime which has created a flourishing Australian publishing industry … should be abolished.’

Adam Bandt said the Greens do not support the proposed changes to PIRs. ‘At some point along the way, protection became a dirty word,’ said Bandt. ‘I don’t think it is. I think it’s okay to want to protect what’s good about this country.’ Bandt also acknowledged the Productivity Commission’s recommendation to introduce a fair use dealing to copyright law. ‘I think this is something we have to get out in front of so it doesn’t become the subject of litigation, and the real question has to be: how do we ensure people are fairly renumerated?’ said Bandt. ‘For me, it is a question of fair pay rather than fair use.’

The debate can be viewed in full here.


Category: Local news