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Tuesday, 29 October 1996
Page: 4695

Senator FORSHAW(7.17 p.m.) —I rise to speak briefly on the annual report of the Australian Film Finance Corporation. I recall that one of the very first meetings I had when I became a senator was with the then Director of the Film Finance Corporation—I think it was John Morris. At that time, Strictly Ballroom was the big feature and was leading a revival of Australian films on the international scene. We have always known that we were able to produce great films but we have seen over the years the impact that they may have had on the international scene rise and fall. It was in 1994 that I had those discussions with the Film Finance Corporation about the future of the film industry. I did so because the industry has always been an area of keen interest to me, not that I have always had the opportunity to put as much time into it as I would have liked in the past.

One of the things I recall arising out of those discussions was the enthusiasm of people in the corporation—and I also met with Australian Film Commission—for the future of the industry. That has been borne out with the continuing release over the last couple of years of such movies as Priscilla, Babe and Shine, which are not only first-rate productions in themselves but have also gone on to win many awards throughout the rest of the world.

The other important thing is that the system of government and industry support through the Film Finance Corporation is one that is now generally acknowledged as being very successful and contrasts with some of the earlier efforts that governments made—I do not single out one side or the other here—in terms of using the taxation system to try to inject finance into filmmaking in this country. Whilst providing 150 per cent tax deductibility for filmmaking in this country was an enthusiastic initiative at the time, we saw that it really did not work in terms of producing good quality films. Now what we see is the corporation, in conjunction with all the other industry partners, going from strength to strength and producing great movies that we can be proud of. (Time expired)

Debate interrupted.