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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for Environment Protection, Heritage and the Arts

Commencement of the resale royalty scheme; Cooper Review; WA proposal for an Aboriginal Centre of Excellence: marine planning

E&OE Transcript
Doorstop Interview, Kidogo art house
Fremantle
8 June 2010

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JOURNALIST: I wanted to ask you a couple of things about today and the resale royalty scheme. But, look I mean, what is the upshot of this presentation today?

GARRETT: The upshot is that today is definitely a red letter day for Australia's visual artists because they now have a right in their work which will give them some economic benefit over time when the work is resold for greater value. And it is a right that others have in terms of royalties that go to them - people like composers, or authors, photographers. And it was long overdue for visual artists to get this right as well.

And I repeat my call for the art industry to get on board with this scheme. The Copyright Agency is a highly competent body who was properly tendered for to administer the scheme. My expectation is that any issues that people want to raise will be listened to and worked through. This is a simple scheme. It is simple to administer. And it will provide long term economic benefit for Australia's visual artists and particularly for our Indigenous artists who have seen the price of their works, in some instances, escalate dramatically over their lifetime.

JOURNALIST: It certainly seems like a positive scheme for those above the threshold but we have a gallery owner here today who is concerned about Aboriginal artists losing jobs if their work is not worth $1000 because galleries won't want to take it on.

GARRETT: Well I don't believe that that is going to happen at all and I just make the point to you that any gallery in this country that is buying and selling work at whatever price has a priority requirement to ensure that they properly and accurately keep records. And that is all that will be required in this instance other than there will need to be a reporting element as well.

And look, songwriters and composers receive royalties from a variety of sources through the collection agencies with highly complex calculations which are done effectively, which are done in amounts which vary from the hundreds of dollars to the thousands of dollars. And if it can be done for songwriters royalties I am sure it can be done for artists royalties as well.

JOURNALIST: Are you considering adjusting the scheme in the way in the way it relates to Aboriginal art centres and their sort of purchase of Aboriginal art, particularly in relation to the threshold?

GARRETT: Look the scheme in its entirety as contemplated in the legislation will remain in that form. It will be up to those Aboriginal art centres themselves to determine what the nature of their relationship and the purchase relationship they have with their artists in order to conform to the scheme. And I am sure that they are going to be able to work through those issues about the first and secondary sale.

JOURNALIST: Could that lead to the purchase of less art works though?

GARRETT: I don't believe it will. There is a strong interest from the community in this work. It has got great cultural resonance. For tourists it speaks to them about Australia and an Australian culture. And the overall trajectory for Indigenous artists in this country has been for it to increase both in value and in volume over time. And I think this will continue to happen. There will always be peaks and troughs in an art market itself within short periods of time, but the long term trends I am absolutely certain will be for continuing work to be produced and continuing work to be sold at good value.

But now, for the first time ever, an artists who is working, perhaps in a remote community, who doesn't see much value for the work that they do in their lifetime, if they pass on and that work takes on greater value when it is resold, their family will be able to take some benefit for that. It is long overdue and it is a very, very good day for Australia's visual artists.

JOURNALIST: Look, in relation to the Cooper Review, report, look, in its recommendation that precious collectables should be prohibited from selfmanaged super funds, what is your position on that recommendation? Is that something you support or is that something you disagree with?

GARRETT: Look I haven't had a chance to look closely at that report. I am aware of those recommendations. I think that the fact is that at this point in time work that is of artistic value and merit that has been invested in through superannuation funds has provided a stimulus to our cultural industries, to our art industries here and to our artists. So I recognise that, but I want to consider that report, I want to read it carefully ands fully before saying anything else.

JOURNALIST: So you can't give in-principle support or advocate one way or the other?

GARRETT: Well no I would like the opportunities to digest the report, to have appropriate discussions with it. The Government wants to consider it in its entirety and then we will respond to it. And I just make the point that at first bluish I am aware that the level of investment that has taken place where people have purchase artwork, has provided significant long-term kind of underpinning of our industry here, so I am aware of that.

JOURNALIST: How close are you to digesting it? How close is Cabinet to making any sort of decision?

GARRETT: Well look let us go back into the Parliament and sit in the Parliament and we will look at it in the future.

JOURNALIST: Within 2010?

GARRETT: I'm not going to start putting dates on it. I will certainly be having a look at it and having a good look at what is contained there and having discussions with my colleagues about it as soon as I am able to.

JOURNALIST: Look the other related question I wanted to ask was Colin Barnett's suggestion that an Aboriginal, a National Aboriginal Centre of Excellence, should be built as part of the Perth waterfront development. You know the long awaited but never forthcoming waterfront development. That would be a major undertaking. Has Colin Barnett or anyone from the WA Government had any discussions with you about that?

GARRETT: That matter hasn't been raised with me by the Premier or by the Arts Minister generally and I think that as with all of these things, if and when there is such time as any state government wants to bring through proposals that it has in relation to development infrastructure and the like and they are seeking either Commonwealth endorsement or support then obviously it would be considered at that time.

JOURNALIST; But there haven't been any discussion to date between WA and the Commonwealth Government?

GARRETT: Not with my department - well not with me, not with the Minister's office and to my knowledge not with the department. There may have been discussion between officials but it hasn't come across my desk yet.

JOURNALIST: What do you think of the idea though?

GARRETT: Well I don't know a great deal about it.

JOURNALIST: there is not, at the moment, a national Aboriginal of Excellent.

GARRETT: I beg your pardon. I think there is merit in considering whether there ought to be an additional focal point for a centre of excellence that has a specific Indigenous component to it. As to whether where it ought to be located and who would pay for it, they are matters fro some pretty serious thought and discussion over time.

But in principle I think those sorts of ideas, and we have ideas from other states as well, wanting to provide an additional focus on Indigenous creativity, Indigenous innovation, and Indigenous excellence, are ideas well worth thinking through and considering.

JOURNALIST: Just one final question from me, and it relates to the environment. There has been a lot of discussion lately in WA about marine parks, particularly off the Kimberley Coast. First of all, do you support the notion of establishing marine parks?

GARRETT: Well the Commonwealth is committed to bringing forward a series of plans and proposals for an extensive marine park network right around the coast of Australia. That is a commitment that previous Labor governments have had and it is also a commitment that was shared at that time by the Coalition. And we are committed to doing that.

As you probably know we're through a process which is in different stages in different parts of the country. My expectation is that for the southwest and that particular region, we will be providing the opportunity for people to consider draft plans towards the end of 2010. It is a process that we want to do carefully. We want to make sure that we have adequate consultation with all stakeholders. I have extended the consultation period for the southwest for that purpose.

But of course the Commonwealth is strongly committed to a network of marine protected areas around Australia in Commonwealth waters.

JOURNALIST: Do you have a position on how much of the waters off the WA coast and in particular the Kimberley, should be set aside as marine parks?

GARRETT: The principle that we're seeing as one of the critical principles for underpinning this process is to ensure that we have a representative area for the environments, the marine environments, around the coastline, which are properly regulated, protected.

JOURNALIST: How much is that though?

GARRETT: Well, just hear me out. That we don't have a specific nor arbitrary percentage figure that attaches to that because there will be different quantums in different parts of the coast including even in Western Australia. That we want to have as little disturbance to existing activities as is possible and we recognise that in much of this planning we want to meet the always important balance between existing uses, sustainable uses and appropriate levels of protection.

So I'm not putting figures on it. It has got to be worked through in quite an extensive and important scientifically driven process. It involves significant consultation with stakeholders and we will do it carefully and prudently.

JOURNALIST: But would you be unhappy if only 1 per cent of the coast was set aside?

GARRETT: Well I am not buying into a figures discussion with you here. What I am saying is that we are committed to a comprehensive system of marine protected areas right around Australia. Properly balancing the needs we have for things like energy security, of sustainable use of our oceans and appropriate protection and conservation of what is in those oceans themselves.

JOURNALIST: Professor Jessica Meeuwig says, she would like to see between 30 and 50 per cent but realistically 20 to 30 per cent as marine parks and a third of that as sanctuary zones should be what the government is aiming for. What do you think of that?

GARRETT: Well again, a number of people have put views to us about what they think that appropriate proportion should be. We will go through that process that we have identified. And it is a very, very thorough process. And we will provide the opportunity for the public to feedback on those management plans - those plans that we put forward - later in the year.

[ENDS]

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