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Wednesday, 2 March 1927

Senator ANDREW (Victoria) .- The Government is to be commended for suggesting the appointment of a royal commission. The belief is becoming popular in Australia that Great Britain should have its due share of the great industry of picture production. It is no doubt true that America became established iu this particular industry during the war, when Britain was engaged in that great struggle; with the result that it now produces about 90 per cent, of the pictures of the world. If the proposed royal commission can stimulate the production of Australian or even British pictures, it will attain the object we have in view. The statement has frequently, been made that it is difficult to find a market for pictures. It is one of the advantage* possessed by the American producers that they have first of all their local market among the teeming millions of the United States of America, from whom they derive great profit, after which they gather extra profit from the overflow of their pictures to the rest of the world. For these reasons America can produce films on a more expensive and extensive scale than is possible in Great Britain. In the northern portion of Victoria we entered into negotiations for the production of a picture relating to our district and our industries, and we were promised 1,000 feet for £70. Four reels were to be turned out, one of which was to be displayed in Australia, while two of the others were to go to America, and the fourth was to go to Great Britain. We were practically promised that the picture would have a world-wide display at a cost to us of £70, and this fact demonstrates the possibility of Australia developing an overseas market for its films. The popularity of the American film is undoubted; but I think that we can create among our own people a desire for Australian or British films by legislating on the lines that theatre proprietors must display a certain percentage of Empire films. By this means, the business may be developed, and eventually, when the demand for our own pictures is created, it may no longer be necessary to continue the restrictive legislation I have suggested. The proposed royal commission should inquire into the possibility of producing pictures in Australia, and evidence might be taken as to means of stimulating the efforts of those who would care to embark upon this industry. We have magnificent scenery in Australia that could well be depicted on the screen. Dramas could easily be shown in such a setting, and thereby pictures of a very desirable character could be produced. The royal commission might inquire into many phases of the question, and also, as suggested, into the production of plays, with the idea of purifying the Australian stage and leading to the presentation of plays worth seeing - plays of an educational value, which we would not be afraid to let our children see. I commend the Government for its desire to build up and purify the film industry, and I feel sure that if the Senate agrees to the motion, a considerable amount of good will result.

Debate (on motion by Senator Hoare) adjourned.

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