Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Book Council of Australia scrapped
News of the demise of the Book Council of Australia comes a year to the day former Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced its formation.
And it follows the Turnbull Government's support for the scrapping of parallel import rules which publishers and writers warn will lead to a flood of cheap mass market books and fewer Australian stories.
The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and Arts Minister, Mitch Fifield, made no mention of the planned cuts at the Prime Minister's Literary Awards on Monday night.
Fifield released a short statement late on Tuesday afternoon about the Book Council, saying: "I will be consulting widely with the literary community about alternative sector-led mechanisms for representation and promotion.
"I thank those who had indicated their willingness to serve on the Council, particularly Louise Adler AM, who had agreed to be Chair, and the many people who have generously shared their views on Australian writing and reading."
Sam Twyford-Moore, a former director of the Emerging Writers' Festival, expressed dismay at the developments.
"For it to be buried in a budget document and not owned by the government is distressing and offensive," he said.
Twyford-Moore helped collect more than 350 signatures protesting the Book Council's leadership and its triennial funding of $6 million at the expense of the Australia Council.
"The Book Council began as ideological warfare on the Australia Council, but those moneys – in the right hands – could have been used wisely as strategic investment in a fragile sector.
"Now? Now a lot of magazines and emerging organisations will very likely die – denied funding in the latest round of Australia Council grants – everything within the world of Australian letters is at risk."
Fairfax has been unable to contact Louise Adler, chair of the Book Council, for comment.