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Thursday, 24 October 1974
Page: 1938

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media) - Let me explain shortly why this clause has been included in the Bill. I emphasise to the Committee that the Australian Film Commission is not being set up to compete with the private sector of the industry. For example, it is not being set up in the same way as Trans-Australia Airlines or the Australian National Line were set up. They are commercial operations. In such instances I suggest that liability to taxation is appropriate as indeed I understand the legislation governing those commercial entities is appropriate. This Commission is being set up principally to dispense assistance to the film industry and also to make national and departmental films under the auspices of Film Australia, which was intended to be transferred to the Commission. To require the Commission to pay indirect tax would only increase the amount of money that would be required to be appropriated by the Parliament to the Commission in order to achieve a given level of assistance to the industry. Therefore it would serve no useful purpose.

Frankly, it is not intended, or it is certainly not believed, that the Commission, having the responsibility of dispensing assistance to the industry, will be in a position to make a profit. At the very best, all it could do would be to break even. Most probably it will require an annual injection of taxpayers' funds. I suggest that any question of its being liable to income tax is irrelevant. But let us assume that after the Commission got under way it eventually made some return by way of revenue from its investments or from the sale of its products. I suggest that that would take some considerable time. One will see that subclause (2) of the clause states that the regulations may provide that sub-section ( 1 ) does not apply in relation to taxation under a specified law. That situation can well be covered by way of regulation. There are many examples of authorities, enterprises and government instrumentalities of the type proposed for the Australian Film Commission which are exempt from taxation. One of them which has already been referred to at length in this debate is the Australian Film Development Corporation. Others include the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the Australian Tourist Commission. I suggest that the responsibilities of the Australian Film Commission to the film industry are akin to the responsibilities of the Australian Tourist Commission to the tourist industry. There is a long list of such instrumentalities which include the Cities Commission, the Film and Television School, the

National Library of Australia and the AngloAustralian Telescope Board, just to mention some of them. I suggest that there is no need to delete this clause. Because of the very nature of the responsibilities that the Commission will have, clause 40 should stand as printed.

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