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Wednesday, 23 October 1974
Page: 1896


Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media) - Senator Guilfoyleand Senator Greenwood very rightly and properly have drawn attention to the Australian Film Development Corporation Act which was introduced into the Parliament by the Gorton Government in which I think the present Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Senator Greenwood, was Attorney-General. If my recollection is correct, he had the carriage of the legislation at the time the Bill was presented in the Senate. Section 2 1 of that legislation states:

(   1 ) The Corporation has power to do all things necessary or convenient to be done for or in connection with the performance of its functions and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, has power -

(d)   Subject to the approval of the Minister, to form, or participate with another person in the formation of, a company for the purpose of carrying on the business of the distribution of Australian films and to acquire, hold and dispose of shares or stock in the capital of a company carrying on such a business.

That is the provision in the Act of Parliament. The Bill was introduced into the Senate by the previous Government, of which Senator Greenwood was a member. Bearing in mind the provision in that legislation and the widening scope of the proposed new Commission, the Government merely has transposed, as it were, that section from the Australian Film Development Corporation Act, as it related to distribution, into clause 7 of this Bill so that it can be related to all the proposed functions of the new Commission. The new clause now reads:

The Commission may with the approval of the Minister, but not otherwise, form or participate with another person in the formation of, a company for the purpose of carrying on the business of making, promoting, distributing or exhibiting films and acquire, hold and dispose of shares or stock in the capital of a company carrying on such a business.

One could have the ludicrous situation- I suppose that one must use the absurd to illustrate the situation- in which, if one gave the Commission complete powers in this regard and funds were made available to it to the extent of $4m, $5m, $6m or whatever the sum might be, and there was no ministerial approval required of the manner in which that amount was to be expended, the Commission might decide of its own volition not to spend one cent in the making of a film, whether it be a short or a feature film. I remind Senator Greenwood that the function of this Commission is much wider than the production of short films. But it could decide of its own volition to use the whole of those funds, say, in distribution, exhibition or acquisition.


Senator Steele Hall - It could buy a theatre.


Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media)

Exactly. For instance, it could engage in the purchase of a theatre for the distribution of other products that may not necessarily be made in Australia. The Bill simply gives to the Australian Film Commission a wider role than the Australian Film Development Corporation had. In the Australian Film Development Corporation Act and in this Bill the approval of the Minister is required for the formation of such companies. The Commission meets, makes a recommendation and the Minister either approves or rejects its recommendation. Because there is an annual report to the Parliament I cannot see any possible objection to that provision.







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