Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Speech on National Film and Television School



Download PDFDownload PDF

COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

S P E E C H

The Rt Hon. W. McMAHON, M.P. Prim e M inister

. ON

National Film and Television Training School i[From the ‘Parliamentary Debates’, 26 October 1971]

M r McMAHON (Lowe—Prime Minister) —On 14th October, in reply to a question from the Leader of the Opposition, 1

undertook to look at figures concerning the proposals of the Interim Council for a National Film and Television Training School that my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts

(Mr Howson) had presented to the House and at criticisms that had been made about them. I have had the matter looked into and I have studied the various statements that have been made in the House. I am

satisfied that the Minister did not give to the House—to quote the Leader of the Opposi­ tion—‘figures which were not accurate or estimates which were misleading’. The discussion that has taken place in the House has centred around the cost of acquiring land and whether an area of 60 acres, or an area of 8 acres, should be acquired.

In November 1969, the Government set up an Interim Council for a National Film and Television Training School. The Interim Council submitted its first report in

November 1970. I table a copy of the

report. In paragraph 11.4 the Council expressed the view that: ‘It is not a viable proposition to set up a National Film and Television School on its own, with a student

body of only limited numbers’. In para­ graph 11.8 the Council said that: ‘The school should be established as an indepen­ dent College of Advanced Education immediately adjacent to an existing educa­ tional institution’. In paragraph 12.3 the Council suggested that an area of some 60

acres might well be required. The full

import will be apparent to members on reading the text of these paragraphs of the report.

The Interim Council submitted a second report in March this year. I table a copy of that report. In it the Council put forward a programme of action on the basis that the National Film and Television School would open up for some pupils early in 1973. In paragraph 4 of the report the Council

suggested a timetable and said that—and I quote from sub-paragraph 5—‘the pro­ gramme as set out in the timetable is

applicable whether the Government accepts the recommendation to purchase the larger area required for a Centre or a lesser area sufficient for the Film and Television School

alone’. Mr Acting Speaker, it is clear that the Council was to be taken in its second report as adhering to its recommendation in the first report that an area of something

like 60 acres should be acquired, although it was recognising that the Government, on its initiative, might only authorise the acquisition of a lesser area.

In June this year the Minister raised with the Council the question whether the School might not progress along rather more cautious lines than the Council had pro­ posed. On 30th June the Minister received

estimates which I now table. It will be seen from an examination of these estimates that on the basis of the acquisition of 60 acres, which was the Council’s recommendation,

the cost would be $7.6m, and that on the basis of the acquisition of 8 acres the cost would be $5.6m. I table a copy of a letter

2

dated 28th July 1971, addressed to the Minister by the Chairman of the Interim Council. It reads: At the meeting of the Interim Council on Tues­

day, 27th July, it was decided that I should

•confirm, in writing, two of the points made in our personal discussions, as being the firm views of the Interim Council. Whilst fully recognising the present need for

economies, the Council stresses that it would be self-defeating to begin the school inadequately. Although it would be possible to move more slowly than envisaged in the original reports, the

Council considers the the school must start off with adequate resources at each stage if it is

to be developed in a worthwhile way. The Council also is anxious to make perfectly clear that its recommendation on the purchase of the land, now available in a non-intensive sub­ division, is based on the belief .that the site should

not be confined to the area needed solely for a Film and Television School. Other schools in associated studies are under active consideration, and their eventual close association and physical location alongside the Film School is considered of great importance to its long-term success. The opportunity to acquire the full site so

advantageously will never reoccur. I realise I have already made these points in personal discussions with you, but I agree with the Council that it is desirable that they be

confirmed in writing.

On 8th September the Minister ma3e a statement in the House in the course of which he said: Whilst the Council’s enthusiasm for this project is fully apparent from its reports, the continuing economic stringencies and the substantial cost which is estimated to be over $7m during the

next 5 years have led to consideration of its

proposals being deferred for 12 months. The proposals may then be considered in the light of what I hope will be more propitious economic circumstances.

Having regard to the very recent and, I might add, firm advice that the Minister had received in Mr Coleman’s letter

of 28th July, the Minister was justified in treating the Council’s proposals as being proposals involving the expenditure of over $7m during the next 5 years.

There remains one matter, namely, the matter of the number of graduates, to

which the Minister referred in answer to a question by the Leader of the Opposi­ tion on 10th September. The Minister gave a figure of 12 graduates. The report to the Interim Council by P. A. Manage­

ment Consultants Pty Ltd reflected some doubt about the needs of industry for

graduates. The report said:

‘Under the assumption that present trends will continue, the number of graduates from the School that the industry believes it could absorb has been determined in the range from 30-4. graduates.’

However, on ithe same page the survey went on to conclude that the School

should cater for an initial output of only 15 graduates a year for the industry. The Minister acknowledges that he was in error in referring to 12 graduates. The figure should have been 15. I table a copy of the consultants’ report.

Mr Acting Speaker, I have stated the position in some detail, and I have tabled reports and other papers, so that the

whole matter can be looked at fairly and squarely. I have done so myself and am fully satisfied with the account that the Minister has given to the House. It is true that consideration had been given by the

Minister to the possibility of proceeding with the School by itself in an area of 8 acres. But that was not the Council’s pro­ posal. The Council had recommended the

acquisition of 60 acres and on 28th July it affirmed that recommendation. The making of a decision was a matter for

the Government. The advice of the

Council was not, however, lightly to be disregarded. In all the circumstances, and in view of the economic factors to which the Minister referred in his statement of

8th September, the Government con­ cluded that it should look at the whole question again within the next year. This the Government has undertaken to do and this it will do. I present the following

papers: National Film and Television Training School Interim Council First Report of November 1970,

Second Report of March 1971, Tables of Estimates of Costs of Establish­ ing the School, A Survey of Employment Opportunities

for Graduates of the Training Schoo'. A copy of a letter dated 28th July 1971

from the Chairman to the Minister for the Environment, Aboriginies and the Arts, Answers by the Prime Minister to a

question by the Leader of the Opposi­ tion on 14th October concerning the proposals of the Interim Council for a National Film and Television Training

School, 26th October 1971.

19997/71 W . G. M urray, Government Printer, Canberra