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Government mismanagement leaves artists with unsatisfactory resale royalty right

The Rudd Government's mismanagement of Senate business will result in the bill to finally give visual artists royalties for resale of their work missing out on a full Senate debate.

The Australian Greens have prepared amendments to the Resale Royalty Rights bill to ensure that visual artists receive royalties from the first resale of their work, instead of waiting as long as half a century for a second resale as they would under the Rudd Government's plan.

In spite of the Government's approach to the Greens' sensible amendments, the Greens have agreed to assure passage of the bill this year.

"This is yet another example of the Rudd Government claiming to be concerned about a problem, presenting a solution which is patently not up to the task and then fundamentally mismanaging the political process," Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne said.

"Australia's celebrated visual artists, from Sydney to Kintour and Melbourne to Warakurna, have been waiting for far too long for recognition and recompense for their success.

"The Resale Royalty Right bill has been before the parliament all year but the Government failed to bring it on for debate in the Senate. Now Minister Garrett has panicked about his failure to deliver on a promise and has asked for the bill to be rushed through.

"Just as with the climate crisis, Minister Garrett and his colleagues seem to think that talking about the problem and proposing some kind of solution is enough. It is not. The solution has to actually work.

"This scheme as it stands will make many artists wait decades for a second resale before they see a cent for their work which has been resold already, making a pretty profit for art dealers."

Artists' advocacy groups have noted that, in the last decade, only 8% of Australian artworks have been resold. At that rate, it would take more than half a century for even half of Australian artworks to be resold.

The Government's claim that applying the resale royalty to first resale of existing artworks may be unconstitutional is vigorously disputed and easily remedied with a compensation clause. Should the High Court ever determine compensation is payable, it is likely to be in the order of $3 million a year, a small price to pay to give visual artists the recognition they deserve.

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