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Wednesday, 23 October 1974
Page: 1877

Senator MILLINER (Queensland) - I support this legislation. Before entering into discussion of the provisions contained in the legislation might I say that the great thanks of the industry, indeed of the Australian people, should be given to the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) for the way in which he has promoted his Department and has done everything possible to advance the interests of the people within the industry? If one were to think back a few years ago in terms of the Department of the Media, I suggest, with respect, that one would think of some aspects of radio, the Press and some minor aspects of television. Today when one speaks of the Department of the Media the advancement of Australian productions in the film industry instantly comes to mind.

I commend to honourable senators the proposition that if they are ever in Sydney they should go to the Department of the Media to see the great advances that have been made in the area of film production and film distribution. I was recently fortunate enough to be there. I was amazed at the progress which has been made in that direction. I am sure that other honourable senators, if they went along to the Department to make an inspection, would be equally pleased to see the progress that has been made in this field. For instance, there are many outposts of the Australian Government throughout the world. Within a matter of 24 or 48 hours the films of important happenings in Australia can now be flown to and shown in these outposts. I refer to the recent joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament. Everybody referred to it as an historic occasion- as indeed it was. Honourable senators will be interested to know that within 48 hours a film of those proceedings was flown to our outposts throughout the world and shown. In addition to that, in the area of assisting migrants coming to Australia, educational talks and films are provided for those areas whence our migrants come. As a result they are better equipped to come into our country. All this means real progress and progress that has come about- I suggest- because of the enthusiasm of the Minister for the Media and the officers of his Department.

The purpose of the Bill, of course, is to establish an Australian film authority to take the development of the Australian film industry one stage further in accordance with the plans of the Australian Labor Government. There has been a remarkable revival of the film industry in Australia. It has undergone many vicissitudes over the years but today we find that at least 22 films are being made at the present time. In the immediate past, those of our films which have been the most successful have been accepted overseas. I ask honourable senators to think back a few years and wonder whether they ever heard of films that had been made in Australia receiving world-wide acclaim? Today that is the situation. I refer particularly to that television series Seven Little Australians'. That has received wide acclaim throughout English speaking countries. Of course, this reflects credit on the industry in Australia. Other films which do not meet with my entire approval- in other words, they are not my kettle of fish- such as 'The Adventures of Barry McKenzie', 'Alvin Purple' and a flood of similar films, have been made and have been remarkably successful overseas.

I suggest that this enthusiasm for our films in other countries indicates that a stage has been reached in Australia today at which the industry can go forward with confidence, knowing that its films will be accepted not only in Australia but also overseas. Of course, this is a great advertisement for Australia. I repeat that this has occurred in only a few short years. Hitherto, our film industry was almost dormant. There was no enthusiasm for it. In some directions, I pay tribute to Crawford Productions Pty Ltd. At least that company kept on operating and persevered. There may have been others, but Crawford Productions Pty Ltd carried on and endeavoured to establish the industry. Members of that organisation would tell honourable senators that it was not until recently that they received the encouragement from government to participate in this activity to the fullest possible extent. Now we see that with such encouragement there has been a further development in their films. I believe that that company is operating quite successfully today.

These things do not just happen. There has to be leadership. I say with due respect- I wish that the Minister for the Media were not present to hear me say this-that it is principally his enthusiasm for his job and his knowledge of the industry and its requirements that have led to the revival of our industry to the point it has reached today. I believe that this legislation will go a step further towards achieving the objective of establishing an Australian film authority to give greater impetus, if that is possible, to the encouragement of the film industry in Australia. It is with a great deal of enthusiasm that I support this legislation. I believe that it is a further tribute to what has been done in the past and what will be done in the immediate future. I hope that we will see the same rate of progress and the same success in the film industry in the future.

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