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Bob Katter Calls For 'John Williamson Legislation' To Save Iconic Aussie Songs

14 September 2015 | 11:07 am | Staff Writer

The Federal MP wants to protect classic unofficial national anthems from trademark registration

Federal MP Bob Katter has taken to heart Aussie singer-songwriter John Williamson's assertion that he would rather go to jail than pay to play iconic national ditty Waltzing Matilda, calling for a new amendment — unofficially named in the troubadour's honour — to protect the track and similarly regarded Australian tunes from trademark registration.

As News Corp reports, Katter's proposed "John Williamson legislation" — affectionately so-named given Williamson's status as the nation's best-known performer of the song — is a joint effort alongside Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, with the pair of pollies taking their Trade Marks Amendment (Iconic Symbols Of National Identity) Bill 2015 to the House of Representatives today.

The bill comes in the wake of an application from Victorian company WM Productions to extend its trademark control over Waltzing Matilda — which it has held for "entertainment and film" since 1998 — to audio-visual and online content, with Katter and Wilkie seeking to prevent private enterprises from profiting from current and future creative works of national significance.

"We want to stop companies making money from our national symbols," Katter told News Corp, indicating that he would welcome a challenge from a private company attempting to profit off iconic works.

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"Let them sue away," he continued. "It will go to the High Court and the government will win."

However, representatives for WM Productions have denied that their expanded trademark application is anywhere near as nefarious as Katter seems to think.

"This [song] is a very special part of Australia’s history and culture and this is something I'm also personally passionate about," WM Productions' Gina Boon said. "In no way would I want to see any damage done to its name.

"[WM Productions] has no intention of, or desire to, prevent the fair and reasonable use of the name by … any party outside the scope of its trade mark rights."

Nonetheless, Williamson said that he was "happy" to hear of Katter's plans "to protect sacred Aussie iconic titles from being owned by smarties in the corporate world".