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Wednesday, 13 August 2003
Page: 18505

Dr Lawrence asked the Minister representing the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, upon notice, on 25 June 2002:

(1) Has the Minister been made aware by any person or body of evidence regarding fraud committed against the Australian Film Finance Corporation (AFFC) relating to its investment in 1995-96 in a children's animation program called “Crocadoo” produced by a Sydney animation company, Energee Entertainment.

(2) Has the AFFC been presented with evidence of such fraud committed against it in this matter.

(3) Has the AFFC informed the Australian Federal Police or the NSW Police of this matter; if not, why not.

(4) How much was the AFFC investment into this production and what has been the return.

(5) Under the terms of warranties provided by the production company to the AFFC, is the AFFC entitled to ask for the return of its investment; if so, will it do so; if not, why not.

Mr McGauran (Minister for Science) —The Minister for the Arts and Sport has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) The Minister is aware of the allegations.

(2) The Film Finance Corporation Australia (FFC) has advised that a writer involved in Series 1 of the program Crocadoo has provided information to the FFC regarding allegations of fraud against the production company. The FFC has also been copied with exchanges of correspondence between the respective legal representatives of the writer and production company.

(3) The FFC has advised that it did not inform the Australian Federal Police nor the NSW Police of this matter because it had been advised that the matter had already been referred to the NSW police.

(4) The FFC has advised that it invested no money in Series 1 of Crocadoo and invested $3,930,519 in Series 2 in 1997. The FFC has further advised that it has recouped $96,829 of its investment to date.

(5) The Minister has been advised that, if the allegations were correct, the production company would be in breach of its contractual warranties to the FFC and would therefore be in default. The FFC advised that in such cases it has a right under the funding contract to require the repayment of its investment.

The Minister has been further advised that the FFC has not asked for the return of its investment as it is not in a position to conclude whether the writer has a legally enforceable claim or if the production company is in default.