Australian Federal Election – Update

Image Credit: Shutterstock
Paul Saintilan
| April 23, 2019

With the Australian Federal Election date now set for May 18, both major parties have released dedicated music policies that commit around $30 million in new funding spread over their elected term. Music Australia applauds both parties for taking music seriously and increasing funding. We compare and contrast their policy statements.

Australian Labor Party

With the election a matter of weeks away, it is reassuring that both major parties have taken the music industry seriously and launched dedicated music policies. The Labor party launched Soundtrack Australia on November 30, committing to delivering approximately $28 million over three years in new spending, and making policy reforms. Big winners in their plan would be: music export body Sounds Australia which will receive $10 million to showcase Australian music across the world and broker deals for Australian artists; the Live Music Office; the Australia Council and PPCA’s New Recordings Program, whose funding would double; $5 million to set up music hubs for young musicians to rehearse in; $7.6 million for music education and music teacher support – such as APRA’s SongMakers program; $4.2 million for two charities working in music and mental health – Nordoff Robbins and Support Act; $600,000 to expand the Music Teacher ARIA Award to four categories – primary; secondary; community; and remote music teachers. Finally, funding of $250,000 will be made available for the Association of Artists Managers to train new and emerging managers. Policy priorities will be copyright protection and protecting the integrity of concert ticketing. The latter will involve stronger action against ticket scalpers, banning bot software and a national approach to capping resale ticket prices. There are current gaps in their commitments on music education funding, but the policy document commits to making further announcements on music education funding prior to the education.

Coalition

The Coalition’s music policy was announced on 30 March, committing $30.9 million in new funding over four years. Big winners will be: a Live Music Australia initiative with $22.5 million over four years to assist thousands of Australian small businesses with grants of up to $10,000 each for artist costs and to invest in equipment or infrastructure to establish or upgrade live music venues and schedule more performances; the Women in Music Mentor program which will receive $2.1 million to deliver a mentoring program to help women take their music career to the next level, including professional training in contract negotiation, marketing, and finance; the Indigenous Contemporary Music program which will receive $2.7 million to establish a national development program for Indigenous musicians and bands for touring, recording and planning effective touring circuits; a $2 million boost to the Australia Council’s Contemporary Music Touring program; $1.6 million to expand the Sounds Australia program (versus $10 million from Labor).

In terms of music education, Music Australia will receive $450,000 to support Music: Count Us In next year. The Song Room would also receive $1.25 million to support the rollout of its Transformational Learning Through Creativity program to about 6,000 disadvantaged students in 16 schools across Launceston, Port Pirie, Shepparton and the Hunter Valley. It should also be noted that on 2 April, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts’ published their report into the Australian music industry. It focuses on factors contributing to the growth and sustainability of the industry.

The music policies of both parties demonstrate some influence from this report. Even though Labor’s pre-dates its publication, it clearly anticipates some key recommendations (such as Live Music Office and Support Act funding).

We look further to receiving further policy announcements from all parties.

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