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Wednesday, 19 April 1972
Page: 1782

Mr SPEAKER -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

Mr HOWSON - Honourable members will recall that in the context of last year's Budget the Government decided to defer consideration of recommendations for a National Film and Television Training School. However, the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) made it clear at the time that we would be looking at the matter again well before the next Budget. In accordance with that undertaking, we have recently considered these further recommendations from the Interim Council.

Following assurances about the School's acceptability to the film and television industry and the prospects for employment of graduates, the Government has agreed to the establishment of the School along lines largely in accordance with the

Interim Council's recommendations. The School will be established by statute and be built on an 8 acre site adjacent to Macquarie University. Pending legislative action, the Interim Council will continue to be responsible for its development. The School will be called the 'Australian Film and Television School'.

Action will be taken as soon as possible to appoint the School's first director. The occupant of this position will have great influence on the style and quality of the School. I hope that as well as being creative he will be knowledgeable in the practicalities of marketing and distribution of films and will reflect the Australian identity of the School.

Appendix . C of the report shows the courses in film and television available in tertiary institutions in Australia in 1971. I hope that in planning his syllabus, the director will take into account these courses in order to avoid unnecessary duplication.

We have also agreed to the Council immediately undertaking an interim training scheme which will provide a basic course for young people entering the industry and also advanced seminars for practising professionals. In the basic course 12 scholarships will be provided tenable for 12 months, open in general to young men and women from any part of Australia, who have passed the higher school certificate or its equivalent, and who show evidence of being likely to profit from the training provided. Provision will be made for the entry in exceptional cases of students who do not meet all these requirements but have other special experience or qualifications fitting them for admission to the scheme.

Training in television will use the facilities of the Australian Broadcasting Cornmission, including the Training School in Sydney, and of commercial television stations throughout Australia. The instructors will be drawn from the staff of the ABC and from such other sources as are appropriate. Training in film production will use the studios, cutting rooms and other facilities of the Commonwealth Film Unit and also of suitable commercial companies as the need arises. Lecturers will be in the main practising professionals.

For approximately 6 months of the course students will be assigned to the

Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Commonwealth Film Unit, commercial film companies or television stations, or to more than one of these in rotation, according to the aptitudes which they show. Special tests will be given in the early part of the course to reveal those students with a potential talent for scriptwriting and special attention will be given to their development. Pending the establishment of the National Film and Television School, the Council will arrange for the 3 best students to receive a further year's training overseas.

The Council also proposes to hold a series of seminars in both Sydney and Melbourne, and if circumstances warrant, in other capital cities. These would be open to a limited number of people of accepted standing in Australian film or television production in order to enable them to hear from distinguished practitioners from Australia and overseas. Probably 3 to 4 seminars could be arranged in the first year. The Council has estimated the cost of establishing the School on 8 acres as $2.7m and its running costs over the first 5 years as $1.61m. Honourable members will, of course, realise that the actual costs will depend on the circumstances at the time the land is acquired, the building erected and so on. The Council has estimated the cost of the interim scheme at about $150,600 a year.

Appendix E of the report recommends that the School should be established on a site large enough to accommodate in the future other schools of an appropriate nature. However, paragraphs 9.14 to 9.18 of the report show that the schools which might most appropriately be associated with the Film School, namely, the National Institute of Dramatic Art and the Opera and Ballet School, are unlikely to want to move from their present locations. For example, the report says the National Institute of Dramatic Art has an ideal association with the Old Tote Theatre and the Department of Drama at the University of New South Wales and has ready access to the training school of the Australian Broadcasting Commission at King's Cross.

Consequently, the Government will purchase only 8 acres for the School site. The other schools contemplated in Appendix E as associating with the Film School would normally be the responsibility of the Government of New South Wales. We believe that it should be for the New South Wales authorities to decide whether to acquire land adjoining the Film School for the purposes of these other schools.

One member of the Council, Mr Hector Crawford, has expressed doubts about the viability of the School and has advocated deferment until the operation and effectiveness of an interim scheme for professionals can be assessed. While Mr Crawford's views reflect wide experience in the industry, they do not have the backing of other members of the Interim Council or of representatives of the industry consulted by the Council. However, I am hopeful that the interim scheme will lend itself to development on the postgraduate side so that practising professionals in the industry may continue to benefit from the best experience available both here and overseas. Planning of the school building will be kept as flexible as possible so that its form and detail can be influenced by the experience gained during the operation of the interim scheme.

The third report records a joint statement by the Interim Council and the Australian Film Development Corporation saying: lt is clear that measures have already been started to provide a solid basis for a viable Australian film and television industry.

In addition, both the Council and Corporation say:

By the lime the first graduates can be expected to emerge from the school in 5 years' time or so, there is every reason to suppose that there will be an active industry in which they can use their talents and the skills which they have acquired and that they will do their part in developing that industry.

One of the members of the Interim Council, Mr Mauger, has recorded his disagreement with these statements. Also, representatives of commercial film studios are reported as saying that they consider that establishment of the school: . . must be accompanied by the provision of adequate assistance to the industry.

The Government's assistance to the film and television industry is already substantial. The Australian Film Development Corporation was established in 1970 with an initial capital of Sim to encourage the production and distribution of Australian films. It is already supporting films that are of good quality and likely to be commercially successful.

The Experimental Film and Television Fund also was established in 1970 to provide assistance to individual film-makers to develop their talent and expertise and to explore the possibilities of the film and television media. The Interim Council has provided grants-in-aid to enable promising young students to go overseas. It envisages continuation of this scheme. The Interim Council also has provided assistance towards the production costs of television programmes of quality and special interest and assistance has been provided for scriptwriters to enable them to devote a period of time to the development of specific scripts of particular promise. Support is being given to film festivals and to organisations which provide the opportunity for a deeper study of film and television.

Now, most significantly, the Tariff Board has been asked to undertake a wide ranging inquiry into measures to assist the production of Australian films and television programmes and to ensure that they attain a reasonable share of the market. This is evidence of the Government's intentions to foster and develop an efficient industry and to encourage distribution of the products of that industry within and outside Australia.

This third report of the Interim Council was prepared at my request. The Council endeavoured to obtain the co-operation of the film and television industry in Australia. It is pleasing to note that the fullhearted co-operation of the industry has been achieved. This will provide not only increased employment opportunities in the industry for graduates from the school but also the assistance and services of the commercial companies in the interim scheme. It is my hope that in founding the Australian Film and Television School, we are setting firm foundations for standards of quality in that industry which will be a source of pleasure and enlightenment in Australia and overseas in the years to come. I present the following paper:

National Film and Television Training School - Ministerial Statement, 19 April 1972.

Motion (by Mr Swartz) proposed:

That the House take note of the papers.

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