Parliamentary inquiry launched into growth and sustainability of screen industry

Screen industry groups have welcomed a new parliamentary inquiry into the growth and sustainability of Australian film and TV as an opportunity to address “long-term systemic issues.” 

The inquiry was launched yesterday to be conducted by The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts.

Committee chair and Liberal MP Luke Howarth said the committee wanted to hear how independent filmmakers and major film and TV companies could “expand and better compete for investment with producers and multi-platform production companies from overseas.”

Howarth also noted the committee wanted to hear from "investors and the industries that support local production" such as sound and post-production firms, as well as production companies generally.

“As a committee, we believe Australian film and TV can be more competitive, and we will be investigating ways the Australian industry can grow sustainably.”

Screen Producers Australia welcomed the inquiry, CEO Matt Deaner noting it was an opportunity to bring greater attention to the issues faced by the industry. 

“We need to address the competitiveness of our industry internationally. We need to address some long-term systemic issues that hold the industry back and hamper our potential. Screen Producers Australia will submit sensible and much-needed reform options for the Committee’s consideration to ensure the growth and sustainability of our industry,” said Deaner. 

Media Entertainment Arts & Alliance (MEAA) Equity director Zoe Angus told IF the inquiry was an opportunity to canvass a broad range of critical issues about the future of the industry.  

Among them, Angus highlights: "rates of pay for screen crew so they can be retained in the industry; standard agreements for offshore productions to ensure a level playing field; ensuring local content on digital platforms; ensuring Australian cast and crew continue to have opportunities on local productions; restoring Screen Australia funding to 2013-14 levels; improving our screen tax incentives; and the survival of children’s television."

Australian Directors' Guild CEO Kingston Anderson also welcomed the inquiry, telling IF it was important to look at how Australian content could continue to be supported into the future as the landscape changes. 

In particular, he said that the absence of local content quotas on SVOD services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime had created an “uneven playing field” that needed to be addressed. However, he argued pushing for deregulation was not necessarily the answer. 

“We don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater," he said. "We want to make sure that we are able to create Australian work, in whatever form, for the screen."

The inquiry is open for submissions until March 31. 

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