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Friday, 1 June 1984
Page: 2380


Senator RYAN (Minister for Education and Youth Affairs)(3.06) —Shortly before the suspension of the sitting for lunch, Senator Martin asked a number of questions concerning films which had been eligible for various tax concessions. After consultation with the officers of the Department of Home Affairs and Environment, I have answers to the series of questions requested by Senator Martin. Senator Martin is not in the chamber at the moment.

Before I seek leave to have those answers incorporated in Hansard, I point out that the answers are not in the form that Senator Martin wished to have them. Senator Martin wanted the names of certain films to be made available to her. Advice given to me by the officers of the Department of Home Affairs and Environment and included in the printed answers which I will seek leave to have incorporated draws attention to the possible problems of the secrecy provisions of the Income Tax Asessment Act should that information be made available at this stage. Clearly, it would be foolish to risk any problems with those secrecy provisions at this stage. I will therefore seek leave to incorporate the answers insofar as we have them.

If it becomes possible for us to give the precise information on further legal advice, then that information will be made available. Senator Hamer made a request in relation to the National Film and Sound Archive. At this point I seek leave to incorporate both of those sets of answers in Hansard.

Leave granted-

The answers read as follows-

QUESTIONS BY SENATOR MARTIN

Question 1-What are ''films of a like nature'' and why are figures not available from the Film Commission on the number of such films produced.

Answer-These are basically dramas produced for television. In many cases the Film Commission will not have information on them.

Aggregate information available to the Department has already been provided. The Film Commission will be asked to look further into the matter in order to provide the maximum information from its sources.

Question 2-What are the names of films produced under the 150 and 133 percent provisions?

Answer-This question raised a legal difficulty under section 16 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936, the relevant part of which reads:

''(2) Subject to this section, an officer shall not either directly or indirectly, except in the performance of any duty as an officer, and either while he is, or after he ceases to be an officer, make a record of, or divulge or communicate to any person any such information so acquired by him.''

The Minister, the Department and the Australian Film Commission are all '' officers'' for the purpose of the provision.

It will therefore be necessary to seek legal advice as to the extent to which this question can be answered from departmental records. Senator Martin will be provided with the maximum information legally and practicably available under the Act. Further inquiries will be made of the Film Commission as to relevant information available to them.

Question 3-How much money has been raised under the Budget provisions for IOBA, i.e. 133% deduction?

Answer-AFC's best market estimate is as follows: (12) Features-$17 million; (5) Mini Series-$16 million; (8) Telemovies-$7 million; Documentaries-no figures available.

This is very much a ''guestimate'' obtained over the phone from AFC late yesterday.

Note that this financing situation re films is changing daily as deals are put together.

Question 4-How much money is in the trust account covered by the 1983 Budget provision? Under the total, what is the breakdown of how much for each feature film, mini-series, feature-like film, and documentary?

Answer-The same secrecy provisions as mentioned in question 2 operate in this case and will be dealt with in the same manner.

Trust Fund does not distinguish between funds obtained by investors at the 150% or 133% rate.

Trust Fund Account is not of itself a monitoring vehicle but rather a bank account for investment funds and it is constantly changing. For this reason it would be extremely difficult, if not impracticable to provide the information at any one time. However the exercise could be undertaken after a cut-off point such as June 30. This will be done and the maximum possible information supplied .

QUESTIONS BY SENATOR HAMER

Senator Hamer referred to the written answers provided to the questions asked by Senate Estimates Committee D on 3 May, relating to the National Film and Sound Archive.

Question-In regard to answer to question 2 concerning the National Library's part-time Task Force of 16 members continuing only to 30 June, and noting the answer to question 1 that 15 full-time positions were transferred from the Library to the Department on 11 May, what is being done to continue the work previously done by the Task Force?

Answer-(i) A number of part-time positions, equivalent to the level employed by the National Library on tasks related to its film and sound archives sections over the previous 12 months, are being sought for in the context of the 1984-85 draft estimates for the National Film and Sound Archives; (ii) An appropriate top structure and other positions for the National Film and Sound Archive are being developed in consultation with the Public Service Board and the positions will be created as soon as possible.

Question-Could the answer to question 9 concerning the 1984-85 Budget be elaborated?

Answer-In the draft estimates submitted for 1984-85, a significant increase in funds has been sought for establishment and operation of the National Film and Sound Archive.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Department of Aboriginal Affairs

Proposed expenditure, $3,669,000.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

GROUP E

Attorney-General's Department

Proposed expenditure, $7,191,000.

(Quorum formed)