Before going to Canberra to lobby our parliamentarians, a contingent consisting of MEAA & Equity spokespersons and representatives from the guilds representing writers, editors, designers, directors, producers, sound and producers, met to reconcile all necessary background information so as to derive a clear strategy and deliver a concise message in halls of power.
The contingent’s aim was to lobby to keep the current quotas of Australian Contents they currently stand. Using the tag line of #MakeitAustralian, to counter the free to air networks lobbying efforts to reduce quotas in drama and children’s categories to nothing so as to match the current Netflix model in Australia. The contingent also lobbied for an increase in the Location offset for overseas productions from 15%(with the occasional top up from the government) to 30%. This topup of the Location Offset to 30% is currently not guaranteed for a production wishing to shoot in Australia and this leads to uncertainty for overseas producers who might be contemplating bringing projects to Australia. This Location Offset offset would keep us in line with the rest of the world, when considering Australia started the offset scheme for overseas productions in the first place. The contingent also lobbied for the local TV and film producers offset to match each other at 30%. Currently TV is 20% and film 30%. It was critical all these messages were heard, as they will go a long way towards ensuring a thriving Australian film and TV industry long into the future.
In Parliament House a small contingent, which included Fiona Donovan from the APDG, met with Senator Hanson-young. In a separate meeting they met with Senator Derryn Hinch and 4 of his advisers. They also met Ms Aryelle Sargent an advisor to Senator Jacqui Lambie. Later they met with The Labor party’s ‘Friends of film’ delegation which turned into a very large meeting with the Leader of the Opposition – Bill Shorten and a lot of the front benchers. In this gathering there was wide support for the contigent’s requests and in return the Labor members asked for our support to help get Labor voted back into office so they could implement their support for us. Other people who showed interest in our industry’s concerns were; Tony Burke – Shadow Minister of the Arts, Susan Templeman MP who was across all the issues concerning our industry and was part of the senate enquiry into the film Industry. Also Anthony Albanese and Linda Burney showed interest and concern for our cause when attending the meeting.
At an informal drinks function held later in the day, which was attended by about 100 people, the APDG was represented by Fiona Donovan and Peter Sheehan. About half the room were parliamentarians and half were representatives from our industries. Speakers included Brian Brown, Matt Day, Katheryn Thomson and Leah Purcell. Sigrid Thornton, Sean Keenan and a host of well-known personalities mingled with movers and shakers such as Senator Jacqui Lambie, David Littleproud MP and Tanya Pilbersek MP.
All in all the industry representatives did a great job of illustrating the need for maintaining our quota of Australian content. Supporting our arguments were a number of examples of overseas reactions to changes in quotas of local content and children’s content, as well as innovations in ways to fund location and producers’ offsets. Many other countries have come up with very good solutions and have made deals with the new players in the field such as Netflix. The fact that the UK government turned around the decision to cut children’s quotas after only six months shows why networks and streaming businesses need to acknowledge, nurture and give back to the communities and cultures where they make profits.
Article by Fiona Donovan APDG and Peter Sheehan APDG