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Key Howard Government reforms begin tomorrow.

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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP Shadow Minister for Environment, Heritage and the Arts Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Federal Liberal Member for Murray

Monday, 30 June 2008

Media Enquiries: Robert Hardie 02 6277 4477 / 0418 432 909

Key Howard Government reforms begin tomorrow

The Australian Film Industry will undergo its biggest shake up tomorrow, when key reforms introduced by the Howard Government take effect.

Shadow Arts Minister, Dr Sharman Stone, said the Rudd Labor Government should use the opportunity to restore confidence in the Arts community, battered by the huge cuts in funding delivered by the Rudd Labor Government since it’s November 2007 election.

“Tomorrow is an important day for Australia’s film industry with Screen Australia becoming our key film funding and promotion body.

“Screen Australia will administer the Offshore Rebate for films produced in Australia. This rebate was increased by the Howard Government from 12.5 per cent to 15 per cent. This will provide added encouragement to film industry to produce their films in Australia.

“The Producer Rebate will also be managed by Screen Australia. This rebate allows producers of films with a agreed level of ‘Australian content’ to access a 40 per cent rebate for production costs. This rebate was introduced by the Howard Government, replacing the so-called 10B and 10BA tax rebates introduced by the Fraser Government in the 1970s.

“The new Board is in place. However, the Government is yet to name the CEO for the new authority. This is seriously inconveniencing the industry, which needs to compete much more effectively with growing international competition. These reforms have been in the pipeline for over 12 months, yet the Government has dragged its heels on the appointment of the CEO.

“It is important to acknowledge the work of the key agencies, the Film Finance Corporation, Film Australia Limited and the Australian Film Commission, which helped to build Australia’s international film making reputation and enabled us in the past to punch way above our weight in the global business of making good films.

“To the staff who will lose their positions, despite Arts Minister Peter Garrett’s promise of no disadvantage, there will be a period of uncertainty. Let’s hope the industry recognises their experience and they remain employed in the sector.

“The beginning of Screen Australia marks a new beginning for the Australian film industry. However, the lack of direction from the Rudd Labor Government and Peter Garrett over the industry is a concern.

“Kevin Rudd and Peter Garrett need to acknowledge the value of the industry, the growing offshore competition and the importance of a significant investment in the industry for the future.