Thursday, May 24, 2007

Garrett's the good oil

In contrast to Brandis, the performance of the Shadow Arts Minister on the same program a week later was very refreshing. Peter Garrett (shadow minister for climate change, environment, heritage and [phew!]the ... arts) was clearly briefed on the issues, was able to speak passionately and with knowledge as a creator and copyright holder himself and made all the right noises about preserving ELR, abolishing the recent sedition laws, protection territorial copyright and even looking into annoying anomalies in the GST (although the GST on books is here to stay). If anything, he was slightly less 'bookish' than Brandis, but I suspect the industry will forgive him that if he delivers something more than the current incumbent. Given the complete absence of any measures for the industry in the recent Federal Budget, that probably won't be very hard.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

New 'Minister for Books'

If the performance last week of the new 'Minister for Books,' Senator George Brandis, on Radio National's 'Book Show' is anything to go by, it's unlikely books are going to get much attention in the lead-up to the next election. Brandis, actually Federal Minister for Arts and Sport (always a popular combination, that) was the guest of stand-in presenter Michael Gurr. Brandis has clearly been slow to get briefed on the book industry side of his portfolio since his February appointment, claiming that the annual ABS industry statistical survey was still going (Gurr politely informed him it wasn't), and identifying no particular measures his government was pursuing on the industry's behalf beyond the modest sums dispensed by the Australia Council. Still, he did mention he read books (his favourites are David Malouf's Johnno, John Stuart Mill's On Liberty and Robert Menzies' The Forgotten People) and said he bought books from Folio Books in Brisbane and Hill of Content in Melbourne. Perhaps the best that can be said about his performance, which was almost breathtaking in its blandness, was that he believed he didn't see a role for the government in regulating the industry. The government, he said, 'should keep their noses out of it.' That may be the best we can hope for.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Profiting from Guantanamo

What's wrong with this sentence?

'We're not trying to stop them from trying to sell their story, but we are saying you can't profit from it.' (Philip Ruddock)

Our beloved Attorney-General makes no attempt to explain why anyone, let alone a penniless, socially-marginalised, virtually unemployable convicted 'terrorist,' would want to sell anything except to make a profit. Perhaps he'll require David Hicks to provide a profit-and-loss statement on the writing of the book:

Advance against royalty: $500,000

Pen: $3.00
Paper: $20
4 years in Guantanamo Bay: Priceless