Document Sample

        Main Committee


         Second Reading

           Monday, 7 September 2009

Monday, 7 September 2009                 HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES                                                  8665

           Date Monday, 7 September 2009                            Source House
          Page 8665                                                   Proof No
     Questioner                                                 Responder
       Speaker Georganas, Steve, MP                            Question No.

Mr GEORGANAS (Hindmarsh) (5.14 pm)—I am very pleased to be able to speak today on the Resale Royalty
Right for Visual Artists Bill 2008. The introduction of this bill is a great day for Australia’s visual artists, who
will now, for the first time, have the right to an ongoing economic interest in their works in Australia. Other
creative professions—composers, authors and performers—are able to earn copyright and performance fees in
some form from their work and have an ongoing financial interest in their creative efforts, whether it be theatre,
music, films or other forms of professional arts.

   The achievements of our visual artists have not been recognised to the same extent as those of the other types
of artist that I spoke about. Visual artists have had very little ability to earn income from their work other than
through its initial sale—in other words, through the first sale that is made of the painting or work of art. When
a work sells for a large sum on the secondary art market, the artist receives no direct financial benefit from the
sale. We have seen this, as we heard earlier from other speakers, with many, many Indigenous artists who create
some work, sell it and then that particular piece of art is on-sold in the future for far more than it was sold for at
that first point. Indigenous artists in particular stand to benefit from the introduction of the resale royalty scheme.

   Minister Garrett has raised the example of a Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula painting which was called Water
Dreaming at Kalipinypa. It originally sold for $150 and was resold in July 2000 for $486,500. That is a huge
difference. This highlights what has become a very common situation in the Indigenous market, usually with
the Indigenous community and Indigenous artists being the ones missing out after there has been a resale for
an enormous amount that could have contributed quite a bit not only to that particular artist but to the entire

   It is clear that the situation faced by artists in general is that they often struggle to make a living. A 2003 report
on artists’ working conditions called Don’t give up your day job: an economic study of professional artists in
Australia found that 50 per cent of artists earn less than $7,300 from their art in a year. The situation is arguably
worse for Indigenous artists. The government’s resale royalty scheme addresses this inequitable situation by
creating the right for visual artists to receive a royalty payment each time their work sells on the secondary art
market. It implements an election commitment made by the Rudd Labor government. This is a right which has
now been recognised in over 50 countries around the world and is long overdue in Australia.

   I will provide an example of how it will work. Suppose that, in July 2009—which is the date from which
the resale royalty right legislation takes effect—a gallery owner negotiated with an Indigenous arts centre the
outright purchase of a range of works and one canvas was purchased for $10,000. The gallery owner puts the
work up for sale at an exhibition in December 2009 and the canvas is purchased by an investor for $16,000. This
means a royalty payment to the artist of $800, less administration costs, is automatically triggered, as the gallery
owner acquired the work following the introduction of the resale right.

   The scheme the government has developed delivers a right to visual artists but also, very importantly,
introduces the right in such a way as to ensure minimal impact on Australia’s art market. The scheme is
administratively simple and very straightforward. A flat five per cent royalty rate is fair for all artists, with no
cap on the maximum royalty which may be earned on an individual resale. Joint creators of artwork will also
be recognised under this scheme. The royalty will apply for the current period of copyright—that is, 70 years
following the death of the artist—so that artists can pass on their right to their families and heirs. This is important,
as it can often be the case that artists achieve recognition and success late in life, having spent a lifetime with
modest means developing their creative skills, or after they are long gone.

   The royalties will be collected by a single collecting organisation, which will be appointed by the government
through a competitive and transparent tender process. The collecting organisation will be vested with the powers
necessary to access the information required for it to determine quickly when and to whom royalties are payable.
Importantly, the right will apply only to the resale of artworks that are acquired after the right comes into effect.
This is to ensure that purchasers of artworks are aware at the time they make their purchase that a royalty may

Monday, 7 September 2009                HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES                                                 8666

be payable to the artist if they choose to resell the work. It will also allow the art market to adapt gradually to
the new right. It is important that the resale royalty right is introduced in such a way as to not have a negative
impact on the art market, which in the end would not help artists.

   The resale royalty right is not just about raising additional income for artists. Introducing the right will
significantly increase the transparency of the art market, which is particularly important for Indigenous artists,
who have sadly continued to be exploited by unscrupulous people. We have seen many examples of this in years
gone by. The bill requires sellers to notify the collecting agency each time a work is resold on the secondary art
market. This means that the collecting agency will keep very detailed records on all relevant sales that occur. It
will need to publish key data in its annual report, which will be tabled in the parliament.

   Australian visual artists and their advocates have been campaigning for a resale royalty right for at least a
decade. They have emphasised its importance; they have emphasised how significant this is. It is a significant
statement of the esteem in which Australia holds its visual arts culture and it is an economic reward and incentive
for creators of high-quality art. As the retail royalty scheme grows throughout the years Australia’s artists, like
artists from the United Kingdom, France and Germany, to name just a few—as I said before, there are over 50
countries that have similar schemes—will share in the proceeds of the trade in their works on the secondary

   The government’s response to an inquiry into the Resale Royalty Right for Visual Artists Bill 2008 was tabled
in parliament on 28 May. In its response the government agreed to review the scheme within five years and
expand the definition of an artwork to include forms of fine art textiles, installations, fine art jewellery, artists’
books, carvings and multimedia artworks. Again, these are areas where there is usually no benefit to the original
artist when the work is resold. This bill finally provides for the rights of artists, giving them a fair go.

   This government values the work of visual artists. We are committed to enlarging the creative endeavour and
recognising artists’ contribution to our culture and to our economy. The decision to introduce a resale royalty
right for visual artists has been a long time coming. Australian art is a great asset. It forms part of our culture. As
I said earlier, in theatre, film, music and other art industries there is some acknowledgement in monetary terms
when that art is passed on. Unfortunately, for visual artists that has not been the case. Our Indigenous artists are
the most disadvantaged artists in this area, and this bill will go a long way towards assisting them. I commend
the bill to the House.


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