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Tuesday, 28 August 1973
Page: 417

Mr KATTER (Kennedy) - Those honourable members in the House who wanted to have a little morning doze would have been indebted to the honourable member for Casey (Mr Mathews) for his monotonous, archaic monologue which seemed to be devoted more primarily to taking apart the former honourable member for Casey who was Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts. This seems to be a compulsion on the part of honourable members on the other side of the House. It is a compulsion not so much to attack the previous Government but to be archaic. I suggest to the honourable member for Casey that he would do well to do one of 2 things: Either he should enrol in the film and television school himself to bring more fire into his addresses to the House or, better still, perhaps spend an hour or 2 with the Leader of the House, the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly). I am sure that either course would help him to keep the House awake during his addresses.

I point out that I have had something to do with this industry. I have been a theatre proprietor for many years. In this capacity., as well as being a member of the House, I commend the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in introducing this Bill. In contrast to the destructive address that we have just head, let us look at the opening address of the Prime Minister when he introduced the Bill. He said that it marks the culmination of 3 years of extensive planning. This would hardly do discredit-

Mr Keogh - Well-

Mr KATTER - The honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh) tries to interject. I have told him before that he is a didgeridoo. He makes a lot of noise but he is full of emptiness.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order!The honourable member for Bowman will be quiet. I suggest to the honourable member for Kennedy that if he wishes to continue his remarks he address himself to the Chair and not provoke interjections.

Mr KATTER - Mr Deputy Speaker,because of my respect for you, I address the Chair with great pleasure. All who are interested in the film industry and in television are delighted that this step has been taken by the Prime Minister. Of course, I join with the honourable member for Casey in commending one of our outstanding members on this side of the House, namely, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton). For the benefit of listeners who are not members of the House, I mention that he is John Gorton. They might not remember that he is the right honourable member for Higgins, but certainly they will remember John Gorton. It was his foresight and concern for the industry and the standard of production that caused him to battle this Bill through. Now we see it taking shape. Let us look at the industry.

Mr Mathews - Where was the honourable member?

Mr KATTER - The honourable member is becoming very vociferous now. He was as dull as a bandicoot - perhaps I could say - this morning. I do not know how dull bandicoots are but he was very dull this morning. Admittedly, we have come a long way with Australian film production over the last 5 to 10 years. I well remember and pay credit to the wife of one of our most distinguished members, the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). We knew her before as Daphne Campbell. If the sort of skill which has been referred to and which will now come into use under the provisions of this Bill had been available when the film production 'The Overlanders' was made, Daphne Campbell would have become a great star. But there was no opportunity for the development of our own artists at that time.

I would like to deal briefly with 2 aspects of the involvement of this Bill. The first is the absolute necessity for the Australian film industry to become recognised internationally. With all due respect to the Foundation Director who has been appointed - I have no doubt that Professor Jerzy Toeplitz is a man of outstanding ability and probably of international reputation - I would ask this: Would anyone interested in seeing a good film attend its showing if he was told that it was a production under the organisation of Professor Toeplitz?

People would say: 'Who is Professor Toeplitz?' Maybe he will be known in future years. The comment has been made by Dr Coombs that we should contemplate buying theatres so that we can show Australian productions. With all due respect to Dr Coombs I say that, in my opinion, that is a great admission of defeat. I do not care how many theatres are bought or how much coercion is brought to bear on the Australian people to look at an Australian film, if that film is not produced with a quality that the people demand these days, they will probably look at television or at something else, go swimming or engage in some of the other activities which are so well known in this country.

So, in my humble opinion, we have to aim at producing an initial film of great quality. A large proportion of the moneys that have been made available should be directed to this project. I suggest respectfully that we consider employing a producer such as David Lean, a man who is internationally known for such recent productions as 'Ryan's Daughter' and earlier productions such as 'Bridge on the River Kwai', 'Lawrence of Arabia' and 'Doctor Zhivago'. The double advantage of having a man of that prestige and of that tremendous talent would be that he would work with those people who are involved in the operations of the School, and they would be off to a tremendous start. The industry would be off to a tremendous start. Internationally, it has not done well. Let us face facts. Let us not be over-patriotic and say 'We produced a great Australian film- "Ned Kelly".' Would not this film be the most classical piece of misdirection and miscasting that was ever perpetrated in the whole of the film industry of this or any other country? It ran for one week in New York. If Lionel Long or Ron Randell had been the star, it would have been a different story. But Dean Jagger, the pop singer, was the star.

Mr Daly - It was Mick Jagger.

Mr KATTER - I cannot even remember his name. What a great Ned Kelly. This piece of casting was utterly hopeless. Everyone in the film industry said that. I have been perhaps a little destructive to date. We have seen what we could call the age of Hector Crawford. He is a man of great talent and a man who can orientate productions to what the people want. I pause to say that this Government has one peculiarity. It reminds me of a story which 1 heard about an agitator in

Townsville who said: 'When we take over, my friends, you will have the lovely homes at Surfers Paradise. The workers will have the lovely homes at Surfers Paradise, not all these wealthy people'. One old fellow said: 'I suffer from asthma. I do not want to live by the sea. I do not like the sea.' The agitator said: My friend, when we take over, you will like what you are told to like'. This is the sort of government that we are moving into - briefly, I expect. I rather think that the honourable member for Casey, who has left the chamber and who was disturbed today, was doubly disturbed by the poll result at the weekend. I am sure that it brought him no comfort to know that we now have 48 per cent of the vote in Sydney and Melbourne, not out in the country. I would like to know the result of a poll out there at the moment. But in Sydney and Melbourne 48 per cent are for us and 46 per cent are for the Australian Labor Party. It is little wonder that the honourable member is unnerved.

It is utterly essential that we set a very high standard of production. Last Sunday night we saw the first release of this new series 'Seven Little Australians'. I thought that the casting, the direction and the production were quite superb. As a matter of fact, I wired the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I did not get a reply, and this rather disturbs me. I particularly wanted to know who the producer and director were so that I could pay tribute to them and to all who were involved in this new series. It was quite superb. The young artist who played the part of Judy is a very delightful person and obviously is a young star with great talent. I thought that she was quite outstanding, as was Leonard Teale. I think this will be a great series. So, we have the talent. I appeal to the Prime Minister to ensure that the initial production which will launch this school is a great Australian production. What tremendous scope we have for producing great films in this nation. But I think it is time we realised that we are not much good at these indoor, yackety-yack, stagy kind of films. I think it is time we gave up the double bed for the double barrel. We are not good at that sort of thing. I mean that we are not good at it in movies; I am not suggesting that we lack prowess in any other direction. I suppose ill-informed people will now regard me as anti-permissive. That is not a bad reputation to have you know; you can hide all sorts of indiscretions.

However, I feel that we can make great outdoor movies. We would have no trouble in casting such films because the average Australian is rugged, he is humorous, he has initiative and he has appearance. Do not look at me; I am talking about the average Australian. So we have this great line-up of attributes that will produce really great stars for outdoor movies. And what themes we could develop - exploration, the early mining days and many wonderful stories revolving around our Aboriginal people. I shall not repeat what one of my colleagues has just said by way of interjection about one of our Ministers except to say that it is said that the mining industry is ailing because it is suffering from .rhoea'. However that does not relate to this Bill. We will deal with that later on.

I reiterate 2 points: Firstly, we should launch this School in a most dramatic way by bringing a man such as David Lean to Australia to work with our people and to show them the type of producer who earned an international reputation and won so many academy awards that I have lost count of them. Again I mention a couple of his productions, 'Lawrence of Arabia' and 'Ryan's Daughter'. Secondly, even though we have a man of the obvious great capabilities of Professor Jerzy Toeplitz, I feel that we have to involve all sections. When we are talking of Professor Toeplitz, it is quite obvious to everyone, of course, particularly to me, a man who comes from a cosmopolitan city such as Mt Isa, that we have such a tremendous reservoir of talent from which to draw among people who have come to Australia from Europe and other parts of the world. We have a great new reservoir open to us now from which we can draw to produce film and television series such as 'Seven Little Australians'.

Finally, I pay tribute to the Prime Minister for continuing a theme that was set by the former Prime Minister, John Gorton, and for the fact that the film and television school is now to be established. But I ask that we do not do the sort of thing that was done with the film, 'Ned Kelly', that is bring someone from overseas, a pop singer with an English accent, to take the part of a fellow such as Ned Kelly. What happened with the film 'Ned Kelly' was pathetic; it was deplorable. Let us hope it will be avoided in the future.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

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