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Thursday, 24 October 1974
Page: 1943

Senator GUILFOYLE (Victoria) - I restated the amendment when I spoke on this clause a few moments ago. I will restate the amendment now for your purposes. It reads:

Omit definition of'Australian short film ' and insert:

Australian short film' means-

(a)   a short film-

(i)   that is an Australian film; and

(ii)   not less than 80 per centum of the footage of which has been photographed specifically for that film but does not include a film referred to in paragraph (a) that

(b)   is a short film made or commissioned by the Commission that is of a kind referred to in paragraph 5 (1 ) (b) (i),(ii)or(iii);

(c)   is primarily produced for the purpose of promoting a product or service:

(d)   that promotes a product or service of a person who has borne the whole or a part of the cost of producing the film; or

(e)   is a newsreel or news-magazine or a trailer or other advertising film;

That is the proposed amendment to the definition of an Australian short film which is moved by the Opposition. I take this opportunity to refer to the remarks of the Minister.

The CHAIRMAN - Senator Guilfoyle,would you mind if I interrupted you? The basic amendment before the Chair is that which was moved last evening and perhaps it is my fault that I have not put it to you. I ask now whether leave is granted so that the amendment presently moved by Senator Guilfoyle can be taken at this stage and that the amendment which is before the Chair be postponed. There being no objection, that course will be followed. The new amendment which has just been read by Senator Guilfoyle will be dealt with and we will come back to the postponed amendment which was before the Chair when this matter was first discussed.

Senator GUILFOYLE - I understand that we are now discussing the Opposition's proposed amendment to the Australian short film definition.

The CHAIRMAN - That is correct.

Senator GUILFOYLE - Following the remarks of the Minister I want to say that his statement about depriving the Australian people of seeing documentary films under commission for a department of State is inaccurate. We are not depriving the theatres of showing those films. We are saying that those films shall not be taken into account under clause 10 when we are determining the specified proportion of the number of short films which shall be required to be shown. That is not a matter of saying to the theatres that no longer are they able to exhibit the films which have been produced under the commission of a department of State of Australia. It is rather that they will not be taken into account when giving access as short films to the theatres of this country.

We have said again and again that because the Minister has the approval power with regard to making, promoting, distributing and exhibiting any kind of film the Commission no longer has the discretion to exercise that we believe it should have. If the Commission were able to decide which films it would produce and accept the commissions of government in the way that any other body would make its decisions we would not have the objection we have at present. Within the Minister's proposed amendment the provision that the Commission needs to certify a film that is appropriate to be classified as an Australian short film adds nothing to the Bill as it already exists because within clause 10 as printed is the requirement that films be certified by the Commission to be short films. What the Minister has introduced in his amendment does not strengthen the power of the Commission to certify. That power of the Commission already exists within the Bill. What we are saying is that we believe there could be unfair competition from films which are under the approval of the Minister in contrast with those which have been produced commercially by private commission.

We insist that we are unable to deal with clause 10 as it exists because of the authority which is written into the Minister's approval with regard to the functions of the Commission itself. For this reason we do not see that the amendment which has now been produced by the Government overrides our problems with regard to the assistance which we believe should be given to the commercial film operator in this country. The fact that the Minister has added the words 'has been supplied to the exhibitor free of charge' as a requirement under this clause is not something that we believe overcomes the problem. Free of charge is absolute. There could be a very limited charge for the sale of the documentary style of film which would be more freely accepted by theatres as part of the quota which they should exhibit. It would be desirable for them to accept something at a charge which could be negotiated to the advantage of the documentary type of film as against the competitive type of film which is attempting to make a profit in its own way. For these reasons the amendment which has been introduced by the Government does not overcome the problem of the Opposition. I commend the Opposition's definition and the amendment which we have moved to omit the definition as it is written and to insert the one which I read earlier.

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