Federal Election Proposals to Support Retail, Small Businesses & Music

During this Federal election campain there has been relatively little talk from the major parties about the arts, the music industry, music education, and associated issues. There are, however, some proposals from music and retail industry organisations. This is a summary of what has been proposed.

Australian Retailers Association

The ARA has proposed that parties address five strategic priorities:

  1. Labour and skills shortages
  2. Small business recovery
  3. Supply chain resilience
  4. Sustainable businesses
  5. Inclusive and equitable businesses

The specific proposals include changes to visas to allow more skilled migration, expanding the SME Recovery Loan Scheme, increasing supply chain traceability and transparency, accelerating the transition to net-zero emissions, and systems that support gender equality including cost-effective childcare and flexible return to work options.

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The AMA is a member of the ARA

Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia

COSBOA are calling for competition policy reforms to protect small businesses from being exploited by big business.

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Music Education: Right From The Start

Alberts Music has led a substantial initiative to advocate for more music education in schools, Music Education: Right From The Start. The AMA has been involved in its advisory group from the beginning, and continues to be. Much of the work that needs to be done to improve music education in schools (particularly primary schools, the focus of this campaign) is up to state governments, but Alberts have proposed some strategic proposals to improve music education in schools. They are:

The Music Education: Right from the Start initiative urges the Government/Opposition as a matter of priority to commit to:

  1. Better equipping primary teachers to deliver quality music education through increased support for relevant professional development and the enhanced provision of music learning in Initial Teacher Education for primary teachers including working with the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) to that end.
  2. Commissioning the collection and analysis of agreed baseline data covering access to quality, sequential and ongoing music education including its provision in primary schools; the data collection to be in collaboration with State and Territory education ministers with the results to be made publicly available.
  3. Providing direct assistance, including capital funding, for primary schools with – or with plans to deliver – quality music education programs; the funding could be used for specified purposes including for instruments and necessary music spaces/facilities in high-need schools.

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The AMA is represented on the Advisory Group for this initiative

Music Industry Three-Point Plan

A group of music industry organisations led by APRA AMCOS and including ARIA, AMIN, ALMBC and others has led the development of policy proposals for the election and beyond. The three themes include specific proposals dealing with COVID and other emergency support measures, training, investment in Australian music, tax offsets, incentivising the use of local content, and a ‘Green Paper’ Review of the policy settings supporting the creation, investment and pathways to market for Australian music.

  1. Support rebuild – skills, music creation & export
  2. Drive investment – local content & certainty for local audiences
  3. Ensure sustainability – strengthen intellectual property & policy review

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National Advocates for Arts Education (NAAE)

The NAAE group includes representatives from each of the five artforms in the Australian Curriculum, and has historically worked on ensuring each of the five artforms (one being music) are treated equally. The organisation representing music is ASME.

They have proposed eight points, which cover such things as implementation of arts curriculums, address the erosion of arts content in Initial Teacher Education, expanding the National Music Teacher Mentor Program, and a federally funded Review of The Arts in Australian Schools.

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Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance

The union representing arts & entertainment workers including musicians, actors, dancers, crew, has called for funding to the Australia Council to be maintained at or above 2022 levels, minimum fees for musicians in performances supported by government funding, and an inquiry into music streaming platforms. They have also called for a number of recommendations from the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts report, Sculpting a National Cultural Plan – Igniting a post-COVID
economy for the arts. 

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Cultural Policy 

The common thread through many discussions and proposals is the idea that the Australian government should develop a cultural policy. This may or may not look like the process that culminated in the Creative Australia policy in 2013, but many in the arts sector see a need for a whole-of-sector approach with big thinking about how to address various issues and grow the arts sector, particular those areas that interact with government in some way. This

  • NAAE: “urges all political parties to commit to the development of a National Cultural Policy that includes Arts Education and is developed in consultation with artists, arts educators, the community, and peak arts bodies to ensure a well-supported arts and cultural sector that is serving the Australian community.
  •  Alberts: “Develop a national cultural plan as recommended by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts creative industries inquiry report Sculpting a Cultural Plan [Oct 2021] embracing support and measures for delivering quality music education.”
  • MEAA calls for the development of a cultural plan by highlighting the same parliamentary inquiry report, in particular the recommendation that “the Commonwealth Government develop a national cultural plan to assess the medium- and long-term needs of the sector.”
  • An arts sector think tank, A New Approach, has supported the recommendation for a Cultural Plan, adding that it would be “a good way of coordinating action across federal, state and territory and local governments with one of the goals to boost expenditure as a percentage of GDP”.