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Thursday, 16 September 1971
Page: 1402

Mr GORTON (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - My question is addressed to the Minister for the Environment, etc. The Minister will recall informing the House that it will cost some $7m over 5 years to establish the formerly proposed film and television school in Australia. Will the Minister inform the House how this sum is arrived at, breaking it down into land and buildings, capital excluding land and buildings, and annual running expenses? Will the Minister also inform the House whether this is the only proposal that was put before him or whether there were other proposals for the establishment of this Australian School which were estimated to cost less than the sum he mentioned in the House? If this is so, will he inform the House what the other estimates and suggestions were? Is it a fact that Australia sends or remits some

S55m a year abroad for films alone, excluding the cost of television, and if so, has there been any estimate made of the saving to Australia which even one successful film or television series with world wide distribution would bring to Australia?

Mr HOWSON (CASEY, VICTORIA) (Minister for Environment, Aborigines and the Arts) - I do not have the exact figures at my fingertips but I recall some figures that I gave to the Leader of the Opposition last week. The ยง7m was split up as follows: Capital costs, 1 think, were of the order of $5.1m and the balance, as to running costs, were to be in the first year of the order of $150,000 and rising at the end of the fifth year to about $400,000. In regard to capital costs, capital other than land and buildings amounted to $1.6m and the cost of land and buildings was made up of the difference between that sum and $5.1m. Honourable members can do the arithmetic to calculate that amount. But these figures are given off the cuff and 1 will let the right honourable member have the details.

I received 2 reports from the Interim Council, one delivered in November and the second in March. Having received the second report and having seen the costs for this proposal, I asked the Interim Council whether it could find a slightly less expensive form of producing the result. I received this report but the costs were still of a high order. It was on that basis that I recommended to the Government that the decision should be deferred for 12 months.

Dealing with the other more general matters about the importance of the film industry to Australia and the costs to Australia of importing films, I say yes, I am aware of these costs. However, I also would like to draw the attention of the right honourable member to the fact that already we are making other contributions to the film industry through the Film Development Corporation.

Mr Gorton - I remember that.

Mr HOWSON - Yes. I congratulate the right honourable member for the incentive that he has given to the film industry over the years.

Mr Cope - You do it your way.

Mr HOWSON - I was just about to tell the honourable member for Sydney that I am going to do it my way and how it will be done.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! Do not let us make a farce of question time, please.

Mr HOWSON - May I say that there is aid being given, firstly, to the Film Development Corporation; secondly, through the experimental film unit which is already contributing a good deal to the training of people in the industry; thirdly, in travelling scholarships to send various experts abroad. I wonder whether the right honourable member for Higgins really considered when he first put up this proposal the total number of people that would be required in the industry and the number of graduates that would come out of the schools, because I am not certain at the moment that the industry as a whole has really calculated the number of graduates it wants in the film industry and in the television industry over the next few years. Already the industry is training within its own organisation a number of talented people in this field. I believe that through the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the private television companies, in conjunction with the new interim council that I have established, we can get just as much aid for the film industry over the years at a very much less cost than by setting up an expensive school from which, at the moment, we cannot be certain that we will need all the graduates. I have been giving a good deal of careful thought to the future of the film industry. 1 have had discussions not only with the interim council but also with such interested bodies as the Australian Broadcasting Commission and I believe that in the long run I will be able to put to the House a very much better series of proposals than the original proposal for encouraging this great industry.

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