When Australia last had a national cultural policy, it lasted only months before the Labor party lost the 2013 federal election. Their new policy, launched yesterday at the Espy in St Kilda, sets out a five year vision for what arts and culture could be and mean in Australia. “Arts are meant to be at the heart of our life” said Anthony Albanese.

It is an ambitious policy. It not only looks at the arts sector and direct arts funding, but also the role of arts in education, the importance of the Respect@Work report, and Labor’s commitment to implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

But the headline news for the arts sector is significant: restoring funding to the Australia Council, earmarking funds specifically for First Nations stories, contemporary music, Australian literature and games. It considers workplace norms for artists, and asks how they can be improved. It aims to stamp out fake Aboriginal art.

Jo Caust has taken a deep look at the new policy document for us. She pulls out the biggest figures and the biggest changes, which point towards a more positive future for the Australian creative industries. She has some questions about how it will all work out, but she says it is a step in the right direction.

One of the big changes flagged in the policy is the introduction of content quotas for streaming services, and Oliver Eklund has taken a look at what that could mean for Australian film and television.

The literary world has warmly greeted the policy, which recognises literature has long been underfunded. Katherine Day unpacks the changes for books and publishing, including the extension of the public lending rights scheme, which gives money to authors when books are borrowed from public libraries, to include e-books and audio books.

Another notable feature of the new suite of policies was the establishment of an official Australian poet laureate. The proposal has been greeted with enthusiasm by the literary community. As Valentina Gosetti writes, the concept of a poet laureate has a long history, but the position comes with its own particular responsibilities.

Jane Howard

Arts + Culture Editor

‘Arts are meant to be at the heart of our life’: what the new national cultural policy could mean for Australia – if it all comes together

Jo Caust, The University of Melbourne

This is not quite a game changer, but it is going in a healthier direction.

Streaming platforms will soon be required to invest more in Australian TV and films, which could be good news for our screen sector

Oliver Eklund, Queensland University of Technology

New streaming regulations have been announced as part of the Labor Party’s new National Cultural Policy.

After years of austerity, Revive writes the next chapter in Australian literary culture

Katherine Day, The University of Melbourne

Reading, as the Prime Minister has reminded us, got many of us through lockdowns. And there are some major initiatives for writing and publishing in the new national cultural policy.

Australia is to have a poet laureate – how will the first appointment define us as a nation?

Valentina Gosetti, University of New England

The concept of a national poet laureate has a long history. The establishment of an official Australian position represents an unmissable opportunity.

A tiny radioactive capsule is lost on a highway in Western Australia. Here’s what you need to know

Edward Obbard, UNSW Sydney

The lost radioactive source may never be found.

‘Discriminatory impact on First Nations people’: coroner calls for urgent bail reform in Veronica Nelson inquest

Rick Sarre, University of South Australia; Lorana Bartels, Australian National University

Arrested on suspicion of shoplifting and denied bail, Veronica Nelson died alone in a cell. A Victorian coroner has called for urgent reform of the state’s tough bail laws.

Here’s who decides cause of death, how death certificates work – and whether a person died with or of COVID

Kathy Eagar, UNSW Sydney

The cause of every death in Australia must be certified by a medical practitioner. If the cause of death is not clear, the death is reported to the state or territory coroner for investigation.

What’s driving the potato chip shortage and when will it pass?

Flavio Macau, Edith Cowan University

As with so many staples and foods in the past two years – lettuce, milk and eggs to name a few – the problem is a temporary imbalance between supply and demand. Here’s what’s happening with potatoes.

AI is helping us search for intelligent alien life – and we’ve already found 8 strange new signals

Danny C Price, Curtin University

AI’s ability to identify ‘technosignatures’ missed by classical algorithms is an exciting step forward for radio astronomers.

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