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Visual artists need royalties now, not in 50 years: Greens will move to fix flawed bill

The Australian Greens will move amendments to the Resale Royalty Rights bill that is due to come before the Senate this week 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.

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

"Australia's wonderful and 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.

"But, 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 as 'acquisition of property without just terms' is vigorously disputed. But, should the High Court ever determine that it is unconstitutional, any compensation is likely to be in the order of $3 million a year, a small price to pay to give visual artists the copyright recognition they deserve.

The Greens' amendments would:
• Ensure that visual artists receive royalty payments for the first resale of their work, instead of waiting for second and subsequent sales;
• Require the Government to pay the minimal compensation to vendors that would be due should the High Court at any point rule that this move were unconstitutional; and
• Seek to enable communal ownership of resale royalty rights by indigenous groups where appropriate.

"These are sensible amendments which are supported by artists' groups.

"If Minister Garrett and his Government actually want to make a difference for Australian artists living today, they should embrace these changes and reward artists straight away."

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