The Australian Greens, in partnership with the trustee of Australia's most prestigious literary price, The Miles Franklin Award, is calling on the Gillard Government to scrap its policy of taxing iconic arts awards.
"The Gillard Government and the Coalition need to get their priorities right - taxing prize money for authors and artists raises very little revenue and makes no sense if we value Australia's artists." Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne said
"The Parliamentary Budget Office shows that if the Gillard Government stopped taxing nationally significant arts awards it would cost $160,000 a year over the forward estimates.
"This is a small cost to the taxpayer but a massive investment in Australian artists and the vibrancy of our arts culture.
"While Labor and the Coalition bicker about a budget surplus, the Greens have argued time and time again that we need to support our authors and artists to encourage them to grow and prosper and tell Australian stories.
Simon Lewis, Head of Philanthropy at The Trust Company said "as guardians of Miles Franklin's legacy, we see the tax on the Award in the hands of the wining artists as unfair and unnecessary. The revenue it brings in is minimal in terms of the Government budget; however, supporting Australia's top creative talent with a tax free status for such awards would be a substantial gesture of support to the artists themselves and the sector as a whole."
Miles Franklin award winner, Anna Funder, said: "It seems strange that TattsLotto and blackjack and the Melbourne Cup and other gambling winnings are tax free, when writers' awards are not.
"Writing is at least as much of a gamble, and has a lot more social benefit to the nation - we should encourage writers - who generally have other jobs that are taxed - and not tax them when they receive this recognition."
"The Minister for the Arts, Simon Crean, is releasing the government's long awaited National Cultural Policy next Wednesday (13 March). This initiative should be a part of it," Christine Milne said.