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Thursday, 24 October 1974
Page: 1946

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media) - Before the sitting of the Senate is suspended for lunch I would like to put one or two facts straight. Firstly, it was not the Government that sought a deferral of this clause last night. I suggested to the Opposition that because it had not given proper consideration to all aspects of the Bill one way of reaching some conciliatory position might be for the Opposition not to continue their opposition to clause 10 and that we would examine a rewording of the definition in clause 3 of 'Australian short film'. They took advantage of that offer and sought a deferral of this clause. It was not the Government that sought the deferral of the clause. It was in fact the Opposition. I made that suggestion in the hope that we could reach some form of settlement for the benefit of the industry.

What Senator Greenwood and the Opposition are saying is that all of the people employed by Film Australia and all of the productions of Film Australia are to be put in the same category as films from South Africa, United States, Canada, China or wherever it might be. They are not to be regarded as Australian short films for the purpose of quota. There is no compulsion for any exhibitor or distributor to take the films. All that we suggest is that they shall be eligible to become part and parcel of the quota, along with those being made by the commerical film producers. I suggest to honourable senators opposite, quite frankly, that had there not been a Commonwealth film unit in existence- now known as Film Australia '-there could not possibly have been an effective film industry which has reached the stage we have reached today. It has been that unit that has been responsible, generally speaking, for producing the gophers, the cameramen, the technicians and all those people. Those people have obtained their initial training with what was previously called the Commonwealth Film Unit because the Commonwealth has been able to afford that type of production- a type of production where today they have reached tremendous expertise.

Australia has made worldwide reputation and has made recently a co-production film with Canada and is about to make a co-production arrangement with New Zealand. The films that are made by Film Australia, under the amendments of the Opposition, will be put in the same category as foreign films. The Government certainly cannot accept that proposition, especially when about $4m of taxpayers' money is being made available by the Government to Film Australia for the purpose of Film Australia productions and for the purpose of assisting in the development of the industry. I suggest that Senator Greenwood is way out. I am hoping that during the luncheon break we may be able to sit down and talk about the matter and perhaps bring some rationale into it. As I say, if the Opposition presses this matter it could completely destroy the benefits of the establishment of the Commission.

Sitting suspended from 1 p.m. to 2.15 p.m.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Webster -The Committee is considering an amendment moved by Senator Guilfoyle in regard to the definition of 'Australian short film'. With the concurrence of honourable senators, I would suggest that the question should be put in the form that the amendment moved by Senator Guilfoyle be agreed to. Is leave granted for the question to be put in that form? There being no objection, the question will be put in that form. The question now is:

Thai the amendment moved by Senator Guilfoyle in regard to the definition of 'Australian short film' be agreed to.

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