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Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Page: 2687


Mr CREAN (Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government and Minister for the Arts) (9:01 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The government places great value on a creative and viable Australian film and television industry, which produces high quality cultural content appealing not only to Australian audiences but to international ones as well. The government acknowledges the enormous contribution that the film and television industry has made to the cultural life of the nation. Beyond the initial reach and impact of screen productions, they also provide an important record of Australian cultural life for future generations. We are convinced that the importance of this industry will also be considerably enhanced with the rollout of the National Broadband Network.

This bill facilitates the transfer of part of Screen Australia’s film library and associated sales and digital learning functions to the National Film and Sound Archive. It deals with consequential and transitional matters related to the transfer of staff, assets, liabilities and other matters. The bill also provides for a change in the name of the NFSA to the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.

Screen Australia and the NFSA were established on 1 July 2008, delivering on a major element of the government’s 2007 election policy, New Directions for the Arts. Screen Australia is the Australian government’s key agency for providing support to the film and television sector. The National Film and Sound Archive is the Australian government’s collecting institution for the nation’s audiovisual heritage and has a national collection of over 1.6 million items.

The agencies have now successfully completed over two years of operations as separate statutory authorities. However, in that time it has become clear that the functions associated with the portion of Screen Australia’s film library produced by the former Film Australia Ltd and its predecessor agencies, and related sales and digital learning functions, are now best placed with the NFSA. This film library is a substantial archival resource and the government considers that the NFSA, as Australia’s premier collecting institution for audiovisual material, should be responsible for preserving and supporting the development of this resource. The transfer of this film library and digital learning functions will also enhance and complement the NFSA’s new direction of providing greater online content and improving access to its collection of audiovisual materials

Screen Australia’s film library amongst other things consists of a collection of approximately 5,000 films (and associated materials) produced by the former Film Australia Ltd and its predecessor agencies. This part of the film library is one of the largest and most historically significant sources of archival, documentary and stock footage in Australia, reflecting a century of our history. The sales function relates to the commercial use of the film library’s holdings. The digital learning function is a collection of primarily online educational resources which uses audiovisual material and stills within this film library and associated teaching materials which are suitable for primary, secondary, tertiary and lifelong learning.

In relation to the change in name for the NFSA, the addition of ‘of Australia’ to the end of its name will bring the agency’s name into line with the majority of the Australian government collecting institutions such as the National Gallery of Australia, the National Museum of Australia and the National Library of Australia. The change will enable the agency to be identified internationally as Australia’s premier audiovisual collecting institution. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Andrews) adjourned.