Select Committee on COVID-19 update

Written by:  Media Release
On 8 April 2020, the Senate resolved to establish a Select Committee on COVID-19 to inquire into the Australian Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The committee is to present its final report on or before 30 June 2022.

On 2 September 2020 the

Senate Select Committee on COVID-19 re-opened the submission period for its inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic, noting significant public interest in the inquiry and the dynamic nature of the Australian Government’s response. The committee is examining the Australian Government’s health and economic response to the pandemic’. ‘The committee is aware that many individuals and organisations would like to contribute to the inquiry and some people who have already made submissions would like to update information they have previously provided,’ said the committee’s Chair, Senator Katy Gallagher. Senator Gallagher said ‘the committee welcomes submissions from members of the public and we are grateful to the many individuals who have written to tell us about their experiences. The committee has not set a due date for submissions.’

Amongst arts organisations, the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) made its first submission on 3 June 2020.

In providing an update Olivia Lanchester, CEO of the ASA, wrote:

‘there has been some recovery in the book industry. In positive news, bricks-and-mortar book shops have resumed normal trading sooner than initially anticipated due to the relaxation of restrictions and good containment of the coronavirus, for which the Federal and State Governments are to be commended. The ASA doesn’t have access to book sales data but information would be available from Nielsen Book. We will survey our members in early October, after the next royalty payment, to measure the financial impact of COVID-19 on our authors and illustrators. Due to the rapidly changing circumstances, we would be happy to make this data available to the Select Committee if that would be useful. Even though the decline in author earnings is likely to be smaller than we initially feared, I note that average earnings from authors and illustrators’ creative practices is low (average annual income is less than $13,000) so they remain vulnerable to even small declines and these will be on top of lost earnings from cancelled appearances at festivals, schools, and libraries.’ (Submission 205).