Make it Australian’s Nadine Garner makes plea to government: Protect our content

Nadine Garner in ‘The Doctor Blake Mysteries’.

The Make it Australian campaign rallies being staged around Australia today will send a clear message to politicians, according to actress Nadine Garner.

“As an industry we have to constantly go to government with cap-in-hand, seeking to be recognised,” The Doctor Blake Mysteries star tells IF.

“It’s been decades of the same thing: Can’t you take us seriously? Can’t you protect our content?

“Lots of my colleagues are passionate about this issue so it’s about getting it in front of the noses of the politicians.

“We have to appeal to politicians on a cultural level in terms of what their children are doing and the viewing trends of the up-and-coming generation and how that will impact on Australian identity.”

Garner is speaking at the Melbourne rally together with Australian Writers’ Guild (AWG) president Jan Sardi, director Ana Kokkinos, actor Ben Barber and several other industry figures.

At least 1,500 people from all sections of the screen industry are expected to attend the rallies organised by the AWG, Australian Directors’ Guild (ADG) Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) and Screen Producers Australia (SPA) aimed at increasing government support for the sector.

The four organisations have combined forces to fight for:

  • Local content obligations to include new market entrants including Netflix, Amazon, telcos and ISPs.
  • Competitive tax offsets: producer, PDV and location.
  • Well-funded public broadcasters and screen agencies.

Garner, who last week finished shooting December Media’s climactic Doctor Blake Mysteries telemovie for the ABC, said, “It’s not about locking things down or being protectionist.

“It’s actually the opposite, but also keeping in place a strong, solid Australian voice across all platforms so that does not fall by the wayside.”

The campaign coincides with the House of Representatives’ inquiry into the growth and sustainability of the film and TV industry and the Australian and Children’s Screen Content Review being conducted by the Department of Communications, Screen Australia and the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

“We are at a critical moment for the screen industry with the government set to decide on whether we keep Australian content quotas which guarantee Australians the chance to see and hear their stories,” ADG CEO Kingston Anderson said.

“We must ensure Australian stories are seen on all our screens – big and small – and that the unique Australian voice is heard for generations to come.”

Sardi said: “With the Make It Australian campaign of the 1970s the battle was won but the war to keep it Australian has never ended, and it’s now entering a new, critical phase, with Australian children’s television hanging in the balance and the future of all Australian content under threat.

“Without a new regime of platform neutral quotas and content regulations there will be no scripted drama, no kids’ television, and no stories or culture of our own to pass on to future generations whose screens, as well as their hearts and minds, will be filled instead with foreign content and reality shows.  Because of the US Free Trade Agreement, once it is gone, it is lost forever.”

Director Scott Hicks, who is addressing the Adelaide rally, says it would be disastrous if the children’s quota were scrapped, asking: “How else would we reflect our culture and values to young audiences?”

More broadly, the director of Shine, The Boys Are Back and US indie Fallen, argues: “If we start to remove quotas and wind back government support the industry will dry up. With all these new players in the market we should not take an axe to the foundations that developed a robust film industry. If we as an industry have a coherent and united voice, hopefully the government will listen.”

MEAA CEO Paul Murphy said: “Without real leadership from government to recognise how viewing patterns are changing and to properly support local production, our screens, both big and small, are in danger of being flooded with voices in American and British accents. Our members will be out in force during this campaign to prevent that happening.”

SPA CEO Matt Deaner said: “In the 1970s we made it Australian, now we must again Make it Australian. We’re stronger united than divided. I encourage the industry and community to get involved in the campaign and ensure Australian stories remain on Australian screens.”

Campaign launches are being held at the following venues and times:

Sydney: Event Cinemas, George Street, 6pm

Melbourne: ACMI, Federation Square, 3pm

Brisbane: William Galloway Auditorium, TLC building, Peel Street, South Brisbane, 6pm

Adelaide: Mercury Cinema, Morphett Street, 5pm

Perth: Luna Cinemas, Oxford Street, Leederville, 4pm

Hobart: Fullers Bookshop, Collins Street, Hobart, 5.30pm

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