PIAA lobbies Canberra over 30-day book rule

Announcing its intention to “head off the Productivity Commission recommendations to end territorial copyright”, Andersen (pictured) has written directly to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd – as well as targeting Labor ministers, the Coalition, the Greens and Independent members of parliament – to voice the association’s concerns.


Last week, the Commission released a much-anticipated report into Parallel Import Restrictions (PIRs) which concluded that the federal government should repeal these restrictions for books, despite acknowledging that “the Australian printing industry would likely contract without the PIRs”.


“In the absence of the PIRs, publishers (and printers) would generally need to make adjustments, with some finding new efficiencies that would at least partly compensate them for the greater degree of competitive pressure,” the report states.


The report goes on to say that the benefits of PIRs for local industry “are largely paid for by Australian consumers of books through higher prices and restricted access to better value editions of the titles they wish to purchase”.


However, in his letter to the prime minister, Andersen rejected the notion that repealing PIRs would lead to a drop in retail prices, pointing to the example of New Zealand as a country that adopted a similar approach.


“The evidence since 1998 shows that book prices did not fall,” Andersen says. “Instead, fewer New Zealand books are being published relative to the trend in other English-speaking countries and publishers have rolled back their infrastructure.”


“This failed experiment had such a detrimental impact on the New Zealand book industry that the representative bodies of both authors and publishers in New Zealand forwarded submissions to the Productivity Commission review urging the maintenance in Australia of the existing parallel import arrangements.”


Andersen widened his criticism to claim that the Commission wasn’t the right organisation to handle such a review.


“Former Victorian Premier Steve Bracks undertook the recent car industry review because the Government didn’t trust the Commission. A similarly independent person should have been appointed for the book industry review too,” Andersen said.


“The Commission has again demonstrated that it is captive to a narrow economic ideology and unable to accept industry reality or broader and sensible alternative ideologies.”


Andersen has requested a meeting with the prime minister and members of his Cabinet to discuss the issue further.


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