I mentioned that I’ve been busy? I’ve spent much of my time fighting the good fight on the parallel importation of books issue.
For those wanting to understand how to get something done in politics, it goes like this:
- As AHWA Vice President, I united Australia’s genre fiction author groups (Australian Horror Writers Association, Romance Writers of Australia, and Sisters in Crime) – 1,500 authors in total – by drafting a detailed response to the Productivity Commission’s July Report on PIRs. After some wrangling and member consultation, AHWA’s Committee and members approved the draft. Then, the leaders of all three peak bodies co-signed the final response.
- The united genre author response was sent to the media (resulting in some media coverage), industry leaders, and key Federal politicians. Consequently, I was fortunate enough to receive a response from Malcolm Turnbull, Leader of the Opposition (among others).
- On behalf of these peak bodies, I met with my local MP Dr Mal Washer, who is both a gentleman and the Deputy Chair of Parliament’s Standing Committee for the Arts. I explained the issues in detail, including some complexities (and consequences, such as the impact of remainders) that the Productivity Commission failed to address (or even mention) in its report.
- From there, Mal put me directly in touch with Mark Dreyfus, the Labor MP who was in charge of the ALP’s working group on PIRs.
- Just days later (today, in fact), the media reports that Mr Dreyfus is recommending that PIRs be retained and the Productivity Commission’s report be ignored (i.e. common sense prevails and victory for Australian authors, printers, and the publishing industry!). The PM has yet to finalise the matter, one way or the other, but the majority of Federal cabinet seems to support our position that PIRs should be retained.
The lesson in all of this? Blog posts and placards don’t really sway the decision makers (in fact, my local MP wasn’t especially aware of the issue as it had not yet reached parliament) – direct action and dialogue with the people that matter, the decision makers, while coming from a position of strength, is how these courses of action are decided.
The whole thing was a tremendous experience for me and gave me yet another good lesson on how politics works. I’m grateful that the goodwill and spirit of cooperation amongst Australia’s genre authors and peak bodies allowed us the combined strength of voice to make a real difference.
I’m especially grateful that the combined efforts of authors, publishers, literary agents, and printers, along with my own efforts, has resulted in (what looks to be) a correct decision being made on behalf of Australian business and Australian culture. Now, less established Australian authors like me can return to the task of attempting to have their work published in Australia. At least, we don’t have to worry about one further (and significant) hurdle in getting our work published!
Let’s hope this issue is finally done and dusted.