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Wednesday, 11 November 1998
Page: 226


Mr McGAURAN (Arts and the Centenary of Federation) (5:51 PM) —I wish to thank the member for Denison for his cooperation in allowing us to expedite this very important bill, the Film Licensed Investment Company Bill 1998 , through the lower House. It is extremely important because we need investment. Under the legislation the investment will now need to be completed by 30 June 2002 instead of an earlier period. The deadline for the completion of films is now 30 April 2003 instead of 30 April 2002, which allows for a more realistic time frame for finalising investment and the completion of projects.

I was much inspired by the contribution by the member for Moreton. He is a man who has an abiding interest in film and television production and development. I thought he made a most constructive, if at times provocative, contribution. He is a person of strong views. They are ideas and concepts that should be tested against established policy in the best traditions of policy formulation.

The member for Denison, having cooperated in the speedy passage of this reintroduced bill, did let himself down a little bit with the hoary old chestnut of `why don't we make section 10B more attractive by a 120 per cent deduction instead of the—


Mr Kerr —No, in this bill.


Mr McGAURAN —I see. I stand corrected, but I do not remember it being a Labor Party commitment during the last election. It is one of those things that oppositions do, although not in my lifetime, and that is hold out the promise of grand funding without ever committing to paper.


Mr Kerr —I said that was a criticism of the industry.


Mr McGAURAN —Would you commit the opposition?


Mr Kerr —We'll suck it and see.


Mr McGAURAN —That is a very sophisticated, encouraging response for the film industry.


Mr Kerr —As long as you do not undercut the other funding agents we are happy.


Mr McGAURAN —May I move to that point, following the interjection by the member for Denison, because he has mischievously been trying to create an impression that the FLIC is a replacement of funding for the Film Finance Corporation. It is most disappointing. That is a scare campaign that does not reflect particularly well on him.


Mr Lee —We guaranteed the funding—


Mr McGAURAN —The member for Dobell, a former minister for the arts and somebody who built largely his reputation in that area on film funding, would know the procedure. The Film Finance Corporation has triennial funding and you do not go beyond that in forward estimates. It is an established budgetary process and practice that extends back decades. The triennial funding—


Mr Lee —It was a discretion.


Mr McGAURAN —For a non-controversial chamber we do stir things up a little bit. Why do I not, Madam Deputy Speaker, move quickly to a conclusion?


Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mrs De-Anne Kelly) —I say to the honourable member for Denison: you were listened to with great courtesy by other members; please extend that to the minister.


Mr McGAURAN —Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. The Film Finance Corporation has funding locked in at over $48 million a year until the year 2000-2001; it has triennial funding which obviously allows the government flexibility in setting levels in response to industry needs. The Australian Film Commission funding is stabilised and the government has asked the AFC to investigate ways to redirect funding to the important area of script development and the industry is in very good health. As I said in my second reading speech in another place, earlier today, and I quote exactly again so there will be no misunderstanding or misinterpretation by my opposite number:

The FLIC does not replace any existing funding for the industry, rather it will complement those programs. The government recognises the vulnerability of the industry, especially for some of the most culturally sensitive genres, and the need for certainty for investors and producers alike. Forward funding for the Australian Film Commission and the Australian Film Finance Corporation was confirmed in the 1997-98 budget, and the continuation of film agencies was confirmed in the government's response to Mr Gonski's report in November 1997.

I hope that settles the matter once and for all for the shadow minister and we can unite in promoting a vital, social, cultural and financial industry in Australia.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.


Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER —If no member wishes to consider the bill in detail, I will put the report question forthwith. The question is that this bill be reported to the House without amendment.

Question resolved in the affirmative.