Wayne Swan presses the ad hominem button

Mr Swan's recent article at the Chifley Research Centre's website sets out to attack the IPA, Tony Abbott, the CIS and anyone else in favour of freedom. Fair Go Under Fire? Maybe he should look in the mirror first and focus on that pesky thing called the budget!

Read More: http://chifley.org.au/opinion/fair-go-under-fire/

Toby’s Sunday light

TobyControversial "Piss Art" tipped to win next Archibald.

As the Archibald again sparked controversy over what is art and what is a positive mess on the wall, Toby set out for the South Coast to view what critics reckon will take the Archibald next year.

Wanting to reduce greenhouse gas he took the train to Nowra and was rather vexed to discover from a fellow passenger that the train terminated at Bomaderry forcing passengers to walk several kilometres across the Shoalhaven bridge to Nowra.

It was under that bridge where Toby and arranged a clandestine meeting with local artist Roger Braintree whose grandfather had been jailed for scrawling dirty words on wartime posters of Viscount General Bernard Montgomery.

Toby files his account: GC.Ed.@L.

Roger Braintree, has stunned the artistic world with his “Piss Gillard” which depicts the Prime Minister standing apprehensively in a world of urine. It is London to a brick to run away with the prestigious prize.

The arts sector led by Quentin Bryce (the other one) has championed Piss Gillard as a disturbing and challenging statement, which explores how spiritual belief has been exploited, and spiritual values debased. It is part of the polyphonous discourse that many Third World scholars have been calling for. The portrait challenges the boundaries formed by class and gender, and between abstraction and representation, photography and painting, belief and disbelief—I could hardly believe it myself.

In this portrait, Braintree addresses issues of politics, ambition, emancipation of women, aesthetic beauty and the body in a way that is both visceral and complex. But Braintree himself disagrees with these assessments. “I am anxious not to ascribe an overly literal “political” content to this world”, the 4′ 7″ artist says, “I am anxious to stress instead the ambiguity of political and material success. Like Mallarme, I wish to invoke the essential substance in the shadows."

Piss-gillard3Tony Abbott (a different one, not that one) is wary, “This ambiguity can at times give way to works that replicate highly exploitative representational codes. For example, the large “Heaven or Hell” depicting Malcolm Fraser riding a camel in the nude (him, not the camel) behind Gough Whitlam dressed as a cardinal both surveying a beaten and bruised woman hanging by the wrist with blood splashed on her breasts raises questions as to whether it is blatantly exploiting women, while ostensibly criticising the Catholic church’s attitude to women, actually suggests exploitation of women, particularly those depicting violence to women.”

The last word may go to Sister Wendy Beckett, “I think Braintree has been saying in a simplistic magazine-y type of way that this is what we are doing to Gillard. We are not treating her with reverence. Her sacrifices to Australia are not appreciated. We put her, and her wonderful achievements in a fog of piss. I believe that at the heart of Braintree’s piece is extensive irony. Certainly not criticism of her. Rather, praise.”

Footnote. Sister Wendy does not have the last word. All of the above bar a change of name here and there are actual printed criticisms and appreciations of Andres Cerrano’s, “Piss Christ”, which appeared in the ‘quality’ media and in books, and most definitely apply to Mr. Braintree’s work.

Braintree advises that his artwork is available for sale and he has others in the “Piss” line, including “Piss Abbott”, “Piss Wallabies” (a group portrait of the current Rugby team), and “Piss Howard” (inspired by the SMH coverage of all conservative political leaders.)

Additionally, he is available for sittings if a reader wishes to have a “Piss” of himself or herself—a wonderful gift for Christmas. Hang it in the dunny.

APOLOGY. MH apologises for the above article. It is an example of what happens when broad editorial functions are given to staff members who then abuse the privilege to try to make an extra quid. Unfortunately there is no other article available to replace it today and MH is forced to leave Mr. Braintree’s item in place.

Impact of Parallel Import Restrictions on Book Prices

Photo (6)Tom Murphy looks at the cost of paralell import restrictions 

In
2009 the Federal Labor Government commissioned a Productivity Commission report
into the ‘Regulatory Regime for Books’ specifically focusing on the parallel
importation restrictions on books. Effectively, the parallel importation
restriction (PIR) is found in the Copyright
Act (1968)
and prevents Australian bookshops importing cheap books to sell
onto the Australian market. To put it simply, the Government is artificially
increasing the price of books sold in Australia by having this PIR in place.

The
Productivity Commission (PC) found that the PIR on average increases book
prices by 35% and also found that on many occasions books were up to 50% dearer
as a result. The PC put it unambiguously when they concluded “PIRs place
upwards pressure on book prices and that, at times, the price effect is likely
to be substantial”. The PC has also said that the price impact for educational
books is substantially higher as a result of the PIR. Low-income students are
being unfairly peanilised by this Government in not accepting the PC’s
recommendations. It’s ludicrous for Australian consumers to be paying up to an
extra 50% for books as a direct result of arcane protectionist policies. It
begs the question; why has Australia embarked on decades of economic liberalism
and free trade yet the Government is forcing people to pay extra for books in
the name of protectionism?

When
Craig Emerson announced on the 11th of November 2009 he said that
the Government will not be repealing the PIR as it will increase competition to
an already competition heavy book market. Unfortunately for Dr Emerson, he did
not read the report correctly, or at all. The PC report said, “…The actual
external benefits dependent on the PIRs…are unlikely to be large”. The PC is
saying that PIRs don’t give that much of a benefit to publishers and that the
cost to consumers is un-proportionally large. The Government also failed to
read the part of the report that says, “The benefits to the local industry are
largely paid for by Australian consumers of books through higher prices and
restricted access to better value editions of the titles they wish to purchase.
There are also costs to other industries”. Why is the Government picking
winners in a free market when, if they pick one winner, the losers are directly
negatively impacted as a result?

The
Government also claims that the PIR on imported books will account for a
positive externality created by Australian made books and consumers are willing
to pay the extra price for that added benefit. False. The PC concluded, “…PIRs
do not target such benefits effectively or efficiently”. Alongside this blast
of PIRs they also said “They [PIRs] lessen the imperative for the local book
industry to operate at best practice”. The evidence concludes that PIRs are an economically
inefficient way to help the local book industry and actually do harm to the
Australian economy and unfairly target students.

PIRs
are not the only way the Government supports the book sectors, they also do it
by financial assistance through grants, literary prizes and tax concessions for
registered organisations. There is no rationale whatsoever behind having this
PIR in place as it provides little to no benefit for publishers and hits
consumers very hard.

The
PC’s first recommendation was that “The Government should repeal Australia’s
PIRs for books. The repeal should take effect three years after the date that
it is announced”. The reason why there would be a three-year lag is for the
book industry to adjust to the policy transition.  The Government’s official response, “The
Government has decided not to change the Australian regulatory regime for books
introduced by the previous Labor government”. The Government has commissioned a
report, the PC produced a 240 page document outlining the economic reasoning
behind why the PIR on books should be repealed and the Government’s response
was “no”. 

Thomas Murphy is an active WA Young Liberal that is studying a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Western Australia. You can follow him on Twitter @TomMurphy1995