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Thursday, 14 November 2002
Page: 6376

Senator MASON (2:40 PM) —My question is to the Minister for the Arts and Sport, Senator Kemp. Will the minister advise the Senate of the latest film and television production figures for Australia and will the minister explain how the government's policies have benefited the industry?

Senator KEMP (Minister for the Arts and Sport) —I thank Senator Mason for that question. I have to say that questions from the Labor Party on the arts and sport are few and far between but, Senator Mason, we appreciate the very strong support that you show for the Australian arts and the Australian film industry. The film industry is one of Australia's great growth industries. Last week the Australian Film Commission released its annual national survey of feature film and TV drama production for 2001-02. This survey confirmed the industry's growth. It also confirmed that the government has got the policy mix right to ensure a robust production industry in this country.

The survey showed that total production expenditure in Australia increased by eight per cent, from $611 million to $662 million, with 39 feature films and 49 TV drama programs made here. This year has also seen an increase in the number of local features, which amounted to a total feature film production spend in Australia this year of almost $130 million. This is a fantastic outcome. It compares favourably with the $79 million spent in the previous year. In fact, 2001-02 was an exceptionally strong year for Australian feature films. Three Film Finance Corporation features passed the critical $5 million mark at the box office and made it into the top 25 Australian films of all time.

Spending on foreign features also increased here last year. Potential investors come, of course, in all shapes and sizes; so must the incentives that are used to attract them. As many in this chamber will know, as part of its package of industry initiatives and funding announced last year, the government announced the film tax offset. A great deal of credit for that must go to the splendid work of Senator Alston in helping to develop this film package. The offset is designed to help Australia attract movies with larger budgets and higher production values, many of them from foreign production houses.

Australian film and TV practitioners are amongst the best in the world. This is also demonstrated by the recent international recognition of their skills and achievements, including major awards such as Oscars and Golden Globes. The federal government has underpinned the success of our film industry, and the government's unprecedented funding package announced in September last year builds on that support, ensuring our success in the future. Of course, the package supplements other longstanding and successful measures such as tax concessions available for qualifying films. The film industry in Australia is going from strength to strength. It receives very strong support from the government, and I think Australians are indeed proud of the success of our industry.