Australia/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation  

5.3.1 Visual and applied arts

Resale Royalty Right for Visual Artists 2009

The desirability of establishing a resale royalty scheme (‘droit de suite’) had been hotly debated in Australia for many years before the Rudd Government announced, in May 2008, that such a scheme would be introduced, bringing Australia into line with models existing in Europe.  A particular incentive for the government was the potential to benefit impoverished Indigenous artists from remote communities who, it was claimed, would often sell a work for a paltry sum, or even for goods rather than money, only to have the same work sold by dealers on the world market for hundreds or thousands of dollars more.  The announcement of the scheme led to fierce debate from opposing camps, with those opposing the scheme expressing concerns about the potentially costly and complex administration, the potential to affect prices, and the impact retrospectivity would have for auction houses and gallery owners.  Those supporting the scheme highlighted the benefits for artists and pointed to the existing model of royalties for musicians, but were concerned that, if the scheme were not applied retrospectively, there would not be enough funds to enable it to function properly.  In the event, the scheme commenced in June 2010, with a determination that artists are eligible to receive 5 % of the sale price of their original work(s) when those works are resold in the marketplace and achieve a price of $1000 or more.  In addition to applying to living artists, the scheme covers a period of 70 years after an artist’s death. 

At around the same time as the scheme commenced, the Commonwealth government also announced changes to superannuation guidelines that have made it less conducive for people to purchase art as part of their superannuation holdings.   This measure, together with the impacts of the Global Financial Crisis, has seen some diminution to the value of the Australian art market.  Some have blamed this for the Resale Royalty scheme not yet living up to its potential (see The Australian, August 8 and 9, 2013).  Others perceive other flaws with the scheme, which is currently undergoing review.  For an outline of the perceived benefits and flaws of the scheme, see

The scheme is currently being reviewed by the government, and public submissions on potential for change or improvement have been called for.  For further information see The Act is at

Chapter published: 27-12-2013