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Wednesday, 23 October 1974
Page: 1903

Senator GUILFOYLE (Victoria) -We are indebted to Senator Milliner for pointing out to us the requirements of the annual report of the Commission to Parliament. I should like to point out to the honourable senator that because the Minister now has the approval capacity in clause S he need not give as many directions as may have been anticipated nor would many of those directions find their way into the report because subject to the approval of the Minister under clause 5 the activities of the Commission are fairly stringently curtailed. The other matter to which I wish to refer was the comments made by Senator Steele Hall that the Commission would be unable to produce a film for a department of government. As I see it, this is not the function of the Commission at all. If a department- whether it is the Department of the Media, any other Commonwealth department or a State departmentwishes a film to be made by the Commission it issues its instructions to the Commission. The Commission has a function to make and produce films. Any person who is commissioning a film to be made may give his instructions to the Commission in a commercial way. There will be an undertaking between the Commission and the client. It is not necessary to have the approval of the Minister with regard to script and all sorts of details, including the type of film and other matters to which we have referred tonight because there will be a client-Commission relationship bypassing what was formerly the function of Film Australia. If, as we said earlier, the Minister wishes to retain a Film Australia type of operation then that is the type of operation that should be within the Department and not separately under the control of a commission, if he still requires to give it direction and give it approval for all of its functions.

There are film makers in Australia who have a sense of dismay that the Commission will be producing films itself. There are many people who have thought that the function of the Commission would be to give access, encouragement and outlet to other films which are produced. However, one of the functions of the Commission is that it shall produce films. With this in mind the films which are produced should not be predominantly those which have been approved by the Minister. This is the point that the Opposition has been trying to stress in its attitude to the functions of the Commission. We would like to see an independent Commission, which is what we were told it was to be, which had the discretion to decide what it should produce. I would hope that it would have given encouragement in a balanced way to the industry and would have encouraged the development of excellent short films, educational films, feature films- a whole variety of film making- that needs to find development in this country.

In the course of its operations I would have hoped that the Commission would have undertaken the documentary style of film that has been a requirement of the Australian State and Federal Government departments. In order to do that, it does not need the approval of the Minister for the Media or any other Minister of the Federal Government. The Commission can operate on an client-Commission relationship in a commercial manner. That is how the Opposition had hoped that the Australian Film Commission would function. It is quite absurd to say that it will not be able to make a film for a department of government because we have insisted an removing this other clause which gives power to the Minister to direct the Commission in the performance of its functions. It seems to me that clause 5 gives extreme unlimited power as it stands. This other power to give directions with regard to functions which are already under the approval of the Minister does not have the support of the Opposition.

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