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Budget 2007: Backing the Australian film industry.



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Senator the Hon Helen Coonan Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate

Senator the Hon George Brandis Minister for the Arts and Sport

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE

02 8

Senator Coonan’s media contact: Fiona Telford 0439 003 191

Senator Brandis’ media contact: Travis Bell 0448 950 248

th May 2007

Backing the Australian film industry

The Australian Government has announced a comprehensive package of measures to significantly boost support for the Australian film and television industry, following the completion of the Review of Australian Government Film Funding Support.

The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan and the Minister for the Arts and Sport, Senator George Brandis announced the new package as part of the 2007 Budget.

Senator Coonan said it represented a once in a generation structural reform package for the industry, which will introduce a genuine incentive for film and television productions with wide audience appeal.

“A new Australian Screen Production Incentive will be introduced which provides two major incentives to stimulate growth in the Australian industry,” Senator Coonan said.

“A new Producer Rebate will replace the 10BA and 10B schemes and allow producers the capacity to offer significant returns to investors for productions with wide audience appeal. Australia will also be able to attract strong ongoing interest from offshore filmmakers through significantly enhanced incentives from a Location Rebate, which will replace the Refundable Film Tax Offset,” she said.

“As part of the package, a new screen agency incorporating the Australian Film Commission (AFC), Film Finance Corporation (FFC) and Film Australia Ltd (FAL) will be created from 1 July 2008, to be named the Australian Screen Authority (ASA).”

“It was very clear from the recent Film Review findings that earlier world-leading tax reforms by this Government have been picked up and copied by other international competitors. To maintain and grow our hard won film reputation, an innovative

package of film support is needed. I want to recognise the outstanding contribution Senator Rod Kemp made to this package through his comprehensive Film Review, Senator Coonan said.

The introduction of a new Producer Rebate represents a major new support mechanism for film producers. It will assist the industry to be more competitive and responsive to audiences, by providing a tax rebate of 40 percent of eligible Australian

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expenditure to producers of qualifying feature films, with a 20 per cent rate for qualifying television productions.

“It provides a real opportunity for producers to retain substantial equity in their productions and build stable and sustainable production companies, and should therefore increase private investor interest in the industry,” Senator Brandis said.

The FFC will administer the new Producer Rebate with the ASA assuming that function following its establishment.

The Review found that the agencies have operated effectively and efficiently to date. However, with the establishment of the Rebate, a combined agency will be able to take more co-ordinated and strategic decisions on funding.

“The Rebate will allow the ASA to focus on areas of need, including strengthening the development phase of projects, as well as capacity building and public access programs,” Senator Brandis said.

Funding for the individual agencies will be maintained in 2007-08. Funding for the ASA from 2008-09 and beyond will reflect the progressive uptake of the new Producer Rebate which will become the primary source of funding for projects with commercial potential.

The combined funding will encompass continuation of the Government’s 2004 film election commitments for low budget films, access and screen culture, and the History Initiative through FAL. The new agency will also continue to focus on important initiatives in the areas of practitioner and industry development, access programs and the promotion of Australian films here and overseas.

The major priority for the ASA’s resourcing will be on production of projects of national cultural significance which would be unlikely to attract the necessary private finance to proceed on the basis of the rebate alone. Such projects may include documentaries, children’s programs, new producers’ work and indigenous content.

In conjunction with the establishment of the ASA, the research and statistics function currently undertaken by the AFC will be transferred to the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS) along with appropriate resourcing. This will allow the AFTRS Centre for Screen Business to strengthen its position as a significant industry resource.

An improved Location Rebate will significantly enhance Australia’s attractiveness as a location for the filming of large-budget offshore productions, including post digital and visual effects projects. The Location Rebate increases the rebate from 12.5 per cent to 15 per cent, introduces a world-first complementary 15 per cent rebate on all expenditure on post production, digital and visual effects undertaken in Australia for projects valued over $5 million, and provides greater certainty about what production expenditures qualify for the rebate.

The new Producer Rebate will apply to expenditure incurred on eligible productions on or after 1 July 2007. The new Location Rebate will also take effect from 1 July 2007.