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Monday, 21 March 2011
Page: 1242

Senator BRANDIS (12:52 PM) —The Screen Australia (Transfer of Assets) Bill 2010, which has the opposition’s support, has the purpose of transferring certain assets from Screen Australia, the entity which—under the Kemp-Brandis reforms, if I may call them so—replaced Film Australia, to the National Film and Sound Archive. It also renames the National Film and Sound Archive to the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia, lest anybody be in any doubt as to which country it belongs.

The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia, as we must now call it, is a magnificent cultural institution whose significance I think is not widely appreciated—at least, perhaps, beyond the hallowed halls of Canberra. It contains some 1.6 million archival items from Australia’s audio and visual heritage. In fact, when I had the honour of being the minister for the arts in the last year of the Howard government, one of the occasions I will remember most fondly was listing a number of new items as flagship items in the National Film and Sound Archive, including—I will never forget—what I regard as one of Australia’s most beloved popular songs, the Aeroplane Jelly song. Were it later in the evening and the times not so serious, I might almost be tempted to give the Senate a rendition of it. But I will restrain from the temptation of rendering the Aeroplane Jelly song, the strains of which recall my childhood. Also on that occasion I had the pleasure of entering the Majestic Fanfare, the wonderful piece of orchestral music that has introduced the ABC’s morning radio news for generations of Australians, on the national archives’ list of special archival audiovisual recordings. But I digress.

The purpose of this bill is to include among the transfer of various assets from Screen Australia to the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia a film collection in Screen Australia’s archive of some 5,000 items, to augment the existing collection held by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia of some 300,000 films. Those include items as various as the earliest known film of a Melbourne Cup race, in 1897, and what is acknowledged to be the world’s first feature film, The Story of The Kelly Gang, which was made in 1906. The opposition are very pleased to support this bill, as we have and will continue to provide our very strong support to the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia, as we should now call it, and indeed to Screen Australia.