The position of chair of Screen Australia has been vacant since Glen Boreham’s term expired on June 30.
Media and entertainment lawyer Ian Robertson has questioned why the post has not been filled, suggesting the apparent inaction reflects a lack of attention to the screen industry on the part of the Abbott government.
Boreham was the chair from the creation of Screen Australia in July 2008 and oversaw the merger of the Australian Film Commission, the Film Finance Corporation and Film Australia and the implementation of the producer offset. Deputy chair Deanne Weir is the acting chair.
A Holding Redlich partner and former deputy chair of Screen Australia, Robertson told IF he is “very disappointed” that the most important position in the government-supported screen industry has not been filled. “There is no evidence the government is doing anything about it,” he added.
A spokesman for Arts Minister George Brandis told IF, “The government is actively considering the appointment for the position of chair of Screen Australia.
“As the government’s principle agency providing support to the Australian screen industry it is important that the right person is found. While the process to fill the office of chair is being undertaken, the deputy chair Ms Deanne Weir will act in the position.”
Robertson has also criticised the government’s non-response to the industry’s repeated calls to remove the requirement for a theatrical release for films in order to qualify for the 40% producer offset.
He describes that obligation as completely out of line with the current realities of distribution, noting that the traditional model of releasing films has all but collapsed, particularly for Australian and other independent films.
Removing that requirement would not cost the government anything because the level of production would not rise, he contends.
The industry says the offset should apply to all projects of at least 90 minutes with a minimum budget of $1 million. "In the current regime some films are being made for theatrical release but should not,” he said.