PARALLEL IMPORTS DEBATE: Free Trade – There’s no such thing as a ‘Free Anything’

In theory, ‘Free Trade’ is a great idea. Just ask Bob Carr and Alan Fels. They are two of the stalwarts behind the move to abolish Parallel Import Restrictions on books.

But when ‘Free Trade’ stands to only benefit one party, it’s no longer ‘Free Trade’…’s a one way street.

That’s the difficult road that the publishing and printing industries will be forced to navigate if Parallel Import Restrictions on books are removed.

America, UK and even Canada have made it clear that they have no intention of reciprocating if Australia chooses to relinquish its territorial copyright advantages by removing Parallel Import Restrictions on books.

Proponents of Free Trade like Daniel Griswold in his presentation Australia, the United States and the Road to Free Trade,  say that it’s all about economic growth and opportunity.

‘Try telling that to the estimated 1400 to 1600 people who stand to lose their jobs if PIRs on books are removed.

A book doesn’t just happen. The following professions are involved in creating the finished product:


  • publisher
  • editor
  • writer
  • illustrator
  • printer
  • designer
  • desktop publisher
  • prepress houses
  • mail houses
  • software and hardware manufacturers
  • paper manufacturers
  • paper merchants
  • ink manufacturers
  • suppliers of printing equipment
  • packaging staff
  • binders
  • communication and media services
  • distributors

ALL these people face loss of jobs and potential earnings in their sectors.

Then there’s the  massive carbon footprint being created by the need to air-freight books in from overseas.

The move to abolish PIRs in the name of Free Trade comes at a huge economic and environmental cost. It’s not one I’m willing to pay and nor should you.

Now is the time to talk to your federal politician! Meet with them and express your concerns! Exercise your democratic voice!

If you are not sure who your MP is, how to contact them, or how to address them etc, look at this website which contains all that info! The most important thing is to show your MP how you personally could be effected by the repeal of Australia’s PIR’s –

For sample letters or to download a petition visit

Act now! 17th September is the date set out for a Cabinet decision on this issue. 

I gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the “Printing Industries Association of Australia” and the “Australian Publishers Association” in providing research data for this piece.






Visit this blog tomorrow to find out why supporters of Free Trade are behind the move to abolish Parallel Import Restrictions on books……and why it won’t end up being FREE!

Also, check out today for another post on this issue.