The Rudd-Gillard book regulation fiasco
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The Rudd-Gillard book regulation fiasco

Just after Christmas, a dead-set oracle had this to say about Rudd Gillard Governments in The Australian newspaper:

Most of the mistakes made by the government can be put down to a failure to pay attention to some Year 9 economics. .. the concept of supply and demand, seems to scare and titillate the federal ALP in equal measure.

Wherever you find money, you will also find scammers. This is understood by every shopkeeper, but seems to have eluded the apparatchiks in the Rudd and Gillard governments every time.

The idea that meddling in markets has a range of adverse consequences seems to be a source of constant surprise for this government…

Now we hear about this:

As many as 200 Angus & Robertson and Borders bookstores could be closing their doors, with the prospect of thousands of job losses after the parent company, the Red Group, was placed in voluntary administration late today.”

It turns out that the closure of these book stores has quite a bit to do with the Rudd Government’s failure to deregulate the industry. At present, Australia maintains antediluvian rules preventing the importation of cheap books, meaning that books are expensive, booksellers sell fewer of them, and people are increasingly buying them over the internet.

Long time readers may recall that this blog actually made a submission to the inquiry by the Productivity Commission on this issue that the Government eventually ignored.

Tim Flannery, with an eye to his hip pocket, made a submission decrying the potential financial hardship despite the fact that he has been feasting on the fat of the taxpayer for years.

Looking back at the submissions to the inquiry, the REDgroup’s submission was not as forthright as it should have been however, this one from Books Kinokuniya puts it as well as anyone has:

Local publishers argue that current restrictions nurture local talent and protect Australian culture. The reality is that as more and more Australian readers shop online rather than in bricks-and-mortar stores – due to the uncompetitive nature of the latter – fewer and fewer of these customers encounter Australian writing.

Online booksellers – such as Amazon – do not abide by Australian copyright restrictions or taxation regulations, and would neither invest in Australia nor make a profit by importing Australian titles into their home countries only to export them back to Australia. Local booksellers, however, also sell books by non-Australian authors, and it is this aspect of retail which is damaged by current regulation.

The internet enables customers to discover in an instant when their favorite international authors have released new books. These customers can choose to wait for the local publisher to make these books available from a local bookstore, or import the book themselves via an international retailer’s website.

Almost always, the book can be bought more quickly and cheaply from the internet seller, and current regulations prevent local bookstores from matching their online competitors.

Around 2,500 workers who are thought to be losing their jobs may have pause to wonder why the Government paid no attention.

(Hey, knock yourselves out and join me on twitter.)

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