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Thursday, 3 February 1994
Page: 366


Senator MICHAEL BAUME (4.06 p.m.) —I support the commendation of this report and congratulate Film Australia on another year of success. I think that the policy on this side of the House some years ago that it should either be sold off or broken up was not an appropriate one at that stage. I would hope that the developments that are proceeding at Film Australia on a very commercially oriented and artistically alert level should proceed. Whether or not ultimately its nature and style should change is another matter. What Film Australia is doing, freed from the shackles of the Public Service which were in fact limiting its scope and capacity in the past, is outstanding.

  Johnson and Friends, which Senator Patterson mentioned, is an outstanding commercial success and also an outstandingly successful show as far as children are concerned. My granddaughter regards it as her favourite program. I have had to buy various cassettes of it, which are available from ABC shops.

  I have one slight problem with this report. It relates to a joint venture. Film Australia had a 40 per cent interest in the output of a joint venture with Soundfirm Pty Ltd. This joint venture ceased on 30 November 1992. On 1 December 1992 Film Australia entered into a licence agreement with Soundfirm for the operation of sound facilities for film and video production.

  This has been one of the very successful elements of Film Australia. It has done the sound for many international films. It is a first-rate venture and something of which Australia should be proud. We have managed to earn a great deal of foreign exchange. I note that it did the sound for Black Robe out of those studios. I end by saying that although the company appears to have made a loss of $4 million in the latest year, this was almost entirely due to a revaluation of the property which has a specific purpose limit on it and it does not in fact reflect any bad management there. I commend the report and support Senator Patterson's motion that it be noted by the Senate. I do ask that Film Australia advises us further about the significance of the change in the nature of what was its joint venture with Soundfirm Pty Ltd.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.

  Debate resumed.