Published: 12 February, 2019

The Parliamentary Friends of Australian Books and Writers heard last Tuesday 12 February a personal and passionate speech from HarperCollins author and journalist Trent Dalton about the power of books and the difference reading had made to his own life.

Thirty Parliamentarians and their staff listened to how for Dalton and his brothers, books and libraries had been a refuge from a tough childhood and a path to a better life.

At the same event, Books Create Australia – the book industry partnership of authors, booksellers, librarians and publishers – presented a vision for Australian publishing: “A Reading Nation is a Better Nation”. With a somewhat playful air, Dalton said anyone who didn’t support the idea of Australia as a reading nation should contact him directly.

Co-chairs of the Parliamentary Friends, Assistant Minister for Home Affairs Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC and Labor’s Graham Perrett MP, enthusiastically supported the idea of a fresh joint vision for a reading nation created by the whole industry.

The plan has goals for literacy, culture and the economy, developing a National Early Literacy Framework, promoting reading and Australian books, and investing in innovative supply chain solutions.

Books Create Australia CEOs: Juliet Rogers of the Australian Society of Authors, Robbie Egan of the Booksellers Association, Sue McKerracher from Australian Information and Libraries Association (ALIA) and Michael Gordon-Smith from the APA, thanked the co-chairs for their support.

Linda Reynolds and Graham Perrett have been crucial in establishing the non-partisan group and we’re very grateful for their solid supporters of the book industry.

Afterwards Trent Dalton told Twitter he was, “deeply proud to live in a place where busy politicians from all sides come together and celebrate books and reading.”

The next event will be held on 17 September 2019. Despite the Federal election before that in May, both co-chairs expressed their keenness to remain involved with the group.

The Australian Society of Authors penned a humorous poem read aloud for the co-chairs, which you can read here.

Parliamentary attendees (and their staff) included:

If your local member is here, tell them you welcome their support for books and writers.

  • Senator Linda Reynolds, Western Australia
  • Graham Perrett MP, Member for Moreton
  • Senator Lisa Singh, Tasmania
  • Marian Joseph, Office of Cathy McGowan
  • Brett Maryniak, Office of Brian Mitchell MP
  • Kathryn Newett, Office of Senator Carol Brown
  • Luke Heffernan, Office of Michelle Rowland MP
  • Sussan Ley MP, Member for Farrer
  • Susan Lamb MP, Member for Longman
  • Senator Catryna Bilyk, Tasmania
  • Terri Butler MP, Member for Griffith
  • Joel Fitzgibbon MP, Member for Hunter
  • Bryan Mitchell, Member for Lyons
  • Meryl Swanson MP, Member for Peterson
  • Senator Arthur Sinodinos, New South Wales
  • Kevin Andrews MP, Member for Menzies
  • Maria Moscaritolo​​​​​​​, Office of Stirling Griffith
  • Senator Don Farrell, South Australia
  • Susan Templeman MP, Member for Macquarie
  • Rebekha Sharkie MP, Member for Mayo
  • Rob Mitchell MP, Member for McEwen
  • Senator David Smith, ACT
  • Patrick Gorman MP, Member for Perth
  • Dylan Caporn​​​​​​​, Office of Patrick Gorman
  • Senator Helen Polley, Tasmania
  • Senator Wendy Askew, Tasmania