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Tuesday, 28 August 1973
Page: 413

Mr GORTON (Higgins) - When this Bill was previously introduced into the House I had a few words to say on the matter and I have very little to add now. I do, however, wish to reiterate quite strongly something which I suggested at the time. That suggestion was to support the establishment of the Film and Television School on the site of 5 acres which is being bought from Macquarie University. But it was also to urge the Government to consider once again acquiring a larger site in the same area in Macquarie University, a full 30 acres if possible, so that there could be established in that area contiguous to each other a number of training schools concerned with the creative and artistic endeavours of the country. The suggestion was that there should be set up not only the Film and Television School but also the National Institute of Dramatic Art, or another institute of dramatic art, and the Ballet School, so that possibly there could be a cross-fertilisation of these particular areas of creative arts, and other arts.

I have heard some objections to this proposal which I think carry very little weight. The major objection has been that the exist ing controllers of the National Institute of Dramatic Art or of the Ballet School do not wish at this stage to move to any new location. This may or may not be true. But a nation is not going to stay indefinitely frozen at one level of population or at one requirement for opportunities to train people in dramatic arts. Anybody who says that because somebody now does not wish to move to a new location and therefore that no new location should be provided is completely overlooking the fact that nations grow and that there can be a requirement for a duplication, if you like, of the National Institute of Dramatic Art and a requirement for a new ballet school, including the one that we have, for music direction and for other matters. It seems to me to make this idea more difficult, if not impossible, by refusing to acquire this additional area. It is merely an indication of a complete lack of vision and a complete lack of understanding of what the Australian community may require in the future.

This may be our last opportunity to establish such a complex in Australia. It seems to me that it is a case where it is impossible for the Government to lose because if this area of land is acquired now and if it is not ultimately used for the purposes for which I suggest it may be used, then without any doubt at all the Government can dispose of the land at some later stage, having the added charm of novelty that almost certainly a very great profit would accrue to the Government when the time came for that disposal. I hope it is not considered that I am in any way seeking to criticise the Government on this proposal. I am not. The proposal has extended over far more than one government. I am merely doing what I can to say that I hope that this last opportunity to buy in one area land where a complex concerned with all of these creative arts can be built will not be passed up at this stage. From the point of view of the Government and of the artistic community, it is a case of 'Heads I win, tails you lose', because there cannot be a loss to the Government by going ahead.

Thereis one other matter to which I wish to refer. It is not directly connected with this Bill, but I think that it is sufficiently closely connected with it and its objectives to be in order and I hope that you, Mr Speaker, will agree with that view. The establishment of the Film and Television School is basically a desire to see that there is as much excellence as possible in those who direct and produce films, those who light them, those who design the scenery - those engaged in all the technical aspects of films. This, of course, is good. Added to it is the desire to teach people how to write film scripts. The whole of that is good. But what is equally necessary is that once this institute to provide technical excellence is established and once that in turn produces Australian films of high standard, those films should have an opportunity of being shown to the Australian public.

Tied up with the concept of this Bill providing excellence and with the Film Development Corporation providing finance for the making of Australian films is also a requirement that there should be provided to those who make these films a full opportunity to show them to the Australian people. That is part of the whole complex. At the moment this is not being done. At present the 2 large overseas chains of theatre owners in Australia make it almost impossible for an Australian film to be shown at their theatres. No one expects them to show a film that loses money but one expects them to show an Australian film that makes money, even if its does not make as much money as they would make from an imported film. In addition, the independent theatre owners - there are diminishing numbers of them - are finding it difficult to get films which are brought to Australia from overseas makers and are in danger of being crowded out of business altogether. If that should happen that area for the distribution and the showing of Australian films also would be lost.

I notice that Dr Coombs has suggested that some action might be taken to buy or run theatres to show Australian films. I suggest that we might go further and that the Government might well consider taking some action to persuade overseas film distributors to show Australian films. Such persuasive action can be taken, I suppose, through various taxation measures which would take account of the number of Australian films shown. Action also can be taken to try to protect Australian independent owners of theatres in this nation. As I said, this is not directly connected with the Bill but clearly it is an extension of the desire expressed in the Bill and one which I urge the Government to study. Other than this I can only express great satisfaction that the Australian Film and Television School is being established and great hopes that steps will not stop there.

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