Letter to MPs

Send a letter to your local MP to ask them to retain the resale royalty scheme for artists


  1. Read this letter
  2. Copy and paste this letter into your email
  3.  Personalise the letter [by adding details where you see square brackets]
  4.  Find your local Member of the Australian Parliament by following this link http://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Members
  5.  Email or post the letter to them with the subject line: Your help needed to retain the Resale Royalty scheme for artists


Letter to local Member of Parliament

Your help needed to retain the Resale Royalty scheme for Australian artists

Dear [ insert MPs name here ],

I am an [artist/concerned resident] living in your electorate and I am writing to alert you about an important issue which will have a major impact on artists in this area should it come to pass.

The Australian Resale Royalty scheme for artists began in 2010.

The principle of the scheme is to reward artists when their artworks are resold, recognising the right of the artist to continue to earn a small percentage from their work each time it is sold. One of the guiding principles behind the scheme’s adoption was the acknowledgement that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists were often living in abject poverty while their art dealers were earning substantial sums from the sale of their works. This extraordinary situation was graphically represented in the 2009 award-winning Warwick Thornton film Samson and Delilah.

However, the resale royalty scheme cannot simply be described as a welfare program for Indigenous artists. It establishes the artist’s right to earn money from the ongoing value of their art, just as Australian writers and musicians have their earnings from royalties protected in legislation.

Visual arts and craft practitioners deserve the same demonstrated recognition of our ongoing interest in their work through payment of royalties.

It took more than 20 years of advocacy for the Australian Government to act on behalf of artists, bringing our country into line with nearly 70 other countries including Great Britain and all other members of the EU. And, in fact, the United States and China are now considering similar schemes.

Now, I am very concerned that as a result of an operational review of the scheme, it might be scrapped altogether and that this much sought-after recognition of artists’ intellectual property rights may be withdrawn before it has had a chance to fully deliver benefits to artists.

This would be an enormous waste of time and money as it has taken several years for the scheme to be fully implemented and for the education of gallery owners, who register sales and make payments, to take place.

I have looked at the resale royalty website (www.resaleroyalty.org.au ) and found the following information about how much money the scheme has generated for Australian artists – and, in my opinion, the scheme is tracking well.

Between 9 June 2010 and 9 February 2014, the scheme has generated royalties:

  • Totalling more than $2.28M
  • From more than 8,000 resales
  • For more than 820 artists
  • Lowest royalty $50
  • Highest royalty $55,000
  • Most royalties have been between $50 and $500

Other facts:

  • More than 65% of the artists receiving royalties are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander artists and they have received 50% of the total royalties generated
  • Of the 50 artists who have received most money under the scheme, 26 are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
  • Most artists have received one or two royalty payments, but some have received multiple payments
  • While there were costs associated with establishment of the scheme, particularly in systems set-up, education and awareness activities, the royalties generated for artists already exceeds the funding provided by the Government for implementation of the scheme.

I ask you as my local member to put your support into keeping this scheme – even if that means making changes to streamline it. I would be very disappointed if the rights of artists, which took so long to secure, were removed from us after just three years.

I hope I can count on your support.


[ your name here ]

[ date here]

[ your address if you feel necessary ]



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