FILMING RELATED LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2008
Agreement in Principle
Debate resumed from 6 June 2008.Debate resumed from 6 June 2008.
Mrs JILLIAN SKINNER
(North Shore—Deputy Leader of the Opposition) [4.13 p.m.]: This bill amends a number of Acts and is designed to reduce and simplify the regulatory impediments currently hindering the State's film and television industry. The particular Acts and instruments it amends include the Crown Lands Act, the Filming Approvals Act, the Local Government Act, the Western Lands Act, the Standard Instrument (Local Environmental Plans) Order and State Environmental Planning Policy No. 4—Development Without Consent. It is to make it easier for the film industry to find locations and get approvals to film in them.
The background to the bill is that the New South Wales film and television industry has been in steady decline. A survey conducted by the New South Wales filmmaker's group in 2005-06 found that production levels were at an all-time low and many people in the industry were struggling. In March 2008 the Premier responded to ongoing pressure from the New South Wales Liberal-Nationals Coalition, and also from the film industry, about the increasing flow of business opportunities in the film industry going interstate, by announcing that red tape impeding the film industry's location shooting would be cut. As a consequence, we now have this legislation. I will read onto the record some of the impacts of the decline of the film industry in New South Wales. It is a tragedy. New South Wales used to lead Australia. We had an international reputation as an innovative and great place for filmmakers. The situation has gone backwards. In July last year I received a letter on this matter. It reads:
Right now there is approximately $250 million worth of foreign film productions being shot in Queensland and Victoria. There is NONE being shot in NSW, and there hasn't been for over 12 months.
There have been some improvements since then but a filmmaker came to me, just before she finally had to agree to make a film in Melbourne, to discuss her problems in getting approvals, money, et cetera, to make a film set in Sydney. It was an absolute disgrace that she had to go to Melbourne to get the film made. It is a sorry state of affairs. And there have been many lost filmmaking opportunities in New South Wales. This legislation helps in some ways with location shooting. However, another filmmaker had this to say in a letter:
My only concern is that it doesn't go far enough. We sometimes need to do unusual thing[s] in order to get a particular shot.
This legislation is about regulation and red tape, making it easier for filmmakers to get permission, but the writer asked:
Will the new laws allow me to get permission to ride on the back of a moving truck in order to do travelling rain on a moving car, a request that was recently denied me by the RTA?
I know that sounds dangerous, and the Minister for Fair Trading has her eyebrows in her hairline, but this is filmmaking. These are the kinds of things that filmmakers do. I am sure they have insurance and take all kinds of care to ensure that people are protected from injury. The writer continued:
Does this legislation also require other government bodies to provide assistance? As an example can we expect RTA help to shoot on the Harbour Bridge or Waterways assistance to shoot in Blackwattle Bay?
I am a proponent of a New York style Screen Authority which would take the overall responsibility to liaise between all these agencies and councils to ensure filmmakers have access to the locations and unusual services they need.
Most important we need to have a level playing field to compete with Victoria and Queensland to attract work to NSW.
I'm told we lost $180 million worth of work from "the Pacific War", (a Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks production) in part because the Victorians offered $6 million in assistance and we only offered $1 million. Even at $6 million that's a 30 fold injection into the economy and then there's the multiplier effect. Could we not have matched them?
It's not about a bidding war, just creating the environment where we can compete on even terms, and where government makes a non-cash investment to attract work. (it costs nothing to give up a bit in payroll tax to attract new work which brings cash into the economy)
I agree with the sentiments of that writer and the many others who have spoken to me over the past few months and years about this problem. Another writer, who has described himself for publication purposes as a disgruntled filmmaker because he fears losing business if he becomes known—he is known to me—stated:
NSW was once the hub of the Australian screen industry but more and more production is going to other states who are more "film friendly" and offer better incentives. This equates to tens of millions of dollars lost to NSW film businesses and workers as well as the considerable spin offs to companies as diverse as caterers, publicists, car hirers and hoteliers, to name a few. We have a ludicrous situation where many NSW film crew and actors travel to other states to earn the bulk of their income.
The writer points out that the New South Wales Film and Television Office recently engaged Canadian consultants, who do not know the market, to formulate recommendations about the film industry. The writer described it as:
a masterful example of a "rabbit-out-of-the-hat," "now-you-see-it-now-you-don't", spurious exercise in "consultant-speak" and gobbledygook making no real sense whatsoever and not addressing the problems specific to NSW. The money being spent on this wasteful rubbish could go towards helping NSW film makers develop scripts, or provide seed funding, or any one of the many functions the FTO is supposed to be concerned with.
That is a well-made point. In response to a letter I sent to a number of individuals in the film and television industry, another person stated:
The big issue is why a NSW State body does not have a manager or a board that is good enough to decide its own policy.
This person too referred to the Canadian consultants that were engaged. The writer stated:
What is going on? We have people in NSW and Australia who could give the FTO advice (that shouldn't be needed if you had people running the outfit who knew what they were doing.) And, if it is necessary, there are heaps of companies in NSW and Australia that offer perfectly good executive training courses. Why are we taxpayers giving money to Canadians?
People have expressed concern about the fact that this bill does not go anywhere near far enough. It just pays lip-service to the concerns that film makers have raised time and again. The Premier's response about making it easier to get locations will not address those issues. The writers and the industry want the New South Wales Film and Television Office to be better resourced to allow New South Wales to compete with other States for international productions and, indeed, for the home-grown variety. They want centralisation of the regulatory approval process, creating a single central point of contact for organisations of a film shoot to assist in organising locations and help negotiate council costs and other costs. They want greater incentives to make New South Wales competitive with other States—such as payroll incentives—and above all they want to restore New South Wales to its pre-eminent position as a filmmaker in Australia. The Coalition will not oppose the bill but calls on the Government to go much further in reinvesting in the filmmaking industry in New South Wales.
Ms VIRGINIA JUDGE
(Strathfield—Parliamentary Secretary) [4.23 p.m.]: I speak in support of the Filming Related Legislation Amendment Bill 2008. I commend the Minister, his hardworking staff and departmental staff for their work and effort in preparing the bill. The Federal Government introduced a new package of tax offsets that will help boost local and foreign production. The film friendly package will help New South Wales to capitalise and build on these opportunities. This was a 40 per cent tax offset for Australian feature films and a 20 per cent producer tax offset for Australian television dramas and documentaries. In addition, the Federal Government also increased the location tax offset for spend by international productions in Australia from 12.5 per cent to 15 per cent and extended the offset to PDV—post-production, digital content, visual effects—expenditure in Australia irrespective of where the production is filmed as a means of attracting footloose PDV projects.
A few minutes ago I spoke to Geoff Brown, the Executive Director of the Screen Producers Association of Australia, who welcomed the legislation and said it was a significant step forward for the industry. Indeed, 18 months ago I was invited by the organisation to attend one of its board meetings at Fox Studios. It was a pleasure to meet the people who work and represent the wonderful filmmaking industry, with all the different aspects involved. Mr Brown said, "We fully support the legislation, especially the change in emphasis, which requires now of government departments and agencies the presumption that the application will be granted." The whole emphasis has changed. We have so many wonderful directors, writers, producers, actors, musicians, stuntmen, and lighting and sound people involved in the industry. New South Wales is a wonderful place to film, ranging from our lovely rural areas to our magnificent coastal icons. We have so many talented people working in the film industry: indeed, we have the best in the world. Their technical skills are in high demand but they love working, filming and producing here. However, they need to be employed. We benefit from their beautiful films. Recently I had the honour to be invited to the opening night of the New South Wales Film Festival, where I had the chance to chat to many people working in the industry. I am always impressed by their creativity. Sydney is an international city of choice for many visitors because of our many attractions but the people who live and work here need to be able to use their skills.
Recently the Government introduced a bill to help musicians and poets perform more easily and this bill is another positive step of the Iemma Government. The New South Wales film friendly package will be progressively introduced from July 2008. It is designed to encourage both State and local agencies to work in collaboration and partnership wherever possible. I believe that the local government filming protocol will be amended in consultation with council and industry. The initiative complements an additional investment of $1.8 million for the Sydney film award. I was not there but I believe Gillian Armstrong announced the inaugural winner at the Opera House last night.
Ms Linda Burney: Hunger
Ms VIRGINIA JUDGE:
My colleague and neighbouring member of Parliament, Minister Burney, said Hunger
won the award. What a great title. I hope I get a chance to see it. I believe it was directed by Steve McQueen and was the jury's unanimous selection. Significantly, two local filmmakers, Nash Eggerton and Matthew Newton, also had their first feature films included on the short list.
Matthew Newton's film, Three Blind Mice
, was also commended by the international jury—evidence that the Sydney Film Award is promoting and expanding opportunities for film production in this State. Good on them all! That is wonderful news. Hopefully, I will be able to see the films that are made here by so many talented local people. New South Wales has a very strong post-production special visual effects in animation team. I have visited Fuel International, a post-production company in Newtown, on three occasions. That company comprises young people who are involved in the technical side of film production. When I last visited the company the artists were making the spider webs for Charlotte's Web
. Prior to that I visited Animal Logic at Fox Studios, which is an amazing operation.
There is great collaboration in the post-production special visual effects in animation field. The artists work in a lateral dynamic—an industry that could be established anywhere. Previously I had rung Fuel and asked if I could visit them, as I had a spare hour at 5 o'clock. When I asked whether they would still be there, the response was, "Virginia, come down straight away. We are still here." The artists love their work, and they are so good at it; they do not want to leave, they have to be told to go home and rest.
Mr John Williams:
Ms VIRGINIA JUDGE:
Perhaps we should not pat ourselves on the back. People do work very hard in many fields. The workers in post-production visual effects in animation share their work. Various companies specialise in certain techniques, which they share as needed. Although the field is competitive, it is inclusive rather than exclusive. Businesses should take note that everyone benefits from sharing. The young people who work at Fuel in Newtown are literally the best in their field. They are so good at it, they could get a job anywhere in the world. These highly skilled jobs add value and have a multiplier effect. People who leave the film industry, or are prised away from it, could work in medical imaging, IT or hospitality. They could move around the workforce.
That is very much a feature of the new modality in many developed countries. Australia is in a prime position, a box seat to use a theatrical pun, to take advantage of that versatility. We should not be as passengers in the back seat, we should be at the wheel driving this industry. We have the talent to do so. The bill is another step in making sure that we promote, help and upskill those wonderful young Australians—and also the talented older ones who return to the workforce. We do not want to lose them. I commend this—
Mr Brad Hazzard:
—bill to the House.
Ms VIRGINIA JUDGE:
Yes, this bill to the House. It is great that I am receiving support from my colleagues, the member for Wakehurst, the member for Hornsby and others, who sadly sit opposite. This bill is good for the future.
Mrs JUDY HOPWOOD
(Hornsby) [4.33 p.m.]: The object of the Filming Related Legislation Amendment Bill 2008 is to amend various Acts and instruments to support the screen industry by reducing or simplifying regulatory impediments to the carrying out of filming projects. In New South Wales, and in Australia generally, we have some fantastic talent in the film industry. That is seen time and time again. Baz Luhrmann has just finished his epic Australia
, which was filmed in Queensland and in the Kimberleys, in Western Australia, starring two of our most famous exports, the very talented actors Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. The New South Wales film and television industry has been in steady decline. It is an absolute travesty that the bill—which does address various aspects that will assist the film industry, but certainly could go a lot further—is too little, too late. New South Wales used to be the number one place for film production. It is an absolute scandal that we have lost so much film business to Victoria and Queensland.
The industry should be supported 100 per cent by the New South Wales Government. I have visited Down Under Studios, which is located in my electorate at Mount Kuring-gai and managed by Don Spencer. At my invitation the shadow Minister for the Arts, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, visited the studio and met Don Spencer, scriptwriters and other film industry artists. The overwhelming message was that a great deal more needs to be done to assist artists of high calibre to stay in New South Wales so that they do not go to other States for their work to be recognised.
In my electorate, advertisements have been filmed in Hornsby Mall. Some scenes in the film Lantana
were filmed adjacent to the very famous outdoor restaurant Pie in the Sky, near Cowan. The Hornsby electorate is no stranger to selection for filming, given its beautiful environment. I congratulate the people associated with the films Hunger
and Three Blind Mice
, which were significantly awarded last night. It is wonderful to read about such awards and achievements in our local media. I regularly attend film and live theatre. I enjoy film particularly and seek out Australian content and production to support it as much as possible.
The bill removes and simplifies many of the regulatory impediments that have made New South Wales unattractive for the film and television industry, but it could go a lot further. It is claimed that that will result in an increased number of productions in New South Wales and, therefore, will boost the local industry and economy. A number of parties were consulted about the bill, including the Screen Producers Association of Australia and the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, which have generally supported the thrust of bill. Certainly there have been comments that it should go further to assist the film industry, which needs a boost. It would be wonderful for our economy to have a vibrant, lively and successful film industry as that would attract tourists to New South Wales.
Mr GEOFF PROVEST (Tweed) [4.38 p.m.]: I am 100 per cent for the Tweed. I do not oppose the Filming Related Legislation Amendment Bill 2008. The purpose of the bill is to amend current legislation that governs film making in New South Wales by reducing or simplifying regulatory impediments that have contributed to the decline in the New South Wales film and television industry. The bill seeks to increase film production in New South Wales. As a result, it will lead to a boost in the local economy and increased regional tourism, and will ensure that the New South Wales film industry becomes more competitive with the Queensland film industry.
Ms Linda Burney: You are very articulate.
Mr GEOFF PROVEST: Thank you. These factors are of particular interest to me because of the close proximity of my electorate to Queensland. For many years the residents of Tweed have watched countless projects filmed just over the border rather than in New South Wales. The Queensland Department of Education, Training and the Arts has indicated that during 2007-08 production will be completed to a value of $118.2 million, and this will in turn provide economic benefit to the community of just over $212 million and stimulate the creation of over 3,600 jobs. Several feature films have received funding, while high-profile international film stars, including Guy Pearce and David Wenham, are slated to make appearances in Queensland film projects. This is quite a momentous achievement and it highlights the commitment that Queensland has to fostering the arts in that State.
The story in New South Wales, however, is very different. The New South Wales Film and Television Office website indicates that while New South Wales still expends more money on film production than Queensland—$283 million was expended in 2006-07—this expenditure is down enormously from the $396 million that was spent in 2003-04. This loss of $113 million in expenditure has significantly damaged the film industry in this State and has seen many projects filmed interstate rather here. In addition, the decrease in film projects being undertaken in this State has resulted in less money being injected into regional economies and tourism.
A story printed in the Gold Coast Bulletin
on 17 June illustrates just how important it is to reduce the red tape that surrounds the New South Wales film industry and to increase funding to guarantee that more projects are not shot out of the State. The article discusses how Tourism Australia bosses are looking to use the new Baz Luhrmann film Australia
to boost tourism in the country. However, the announcement coincided with Qantas' decision to cancel the last remaining Qantas flights to Coolangatta and to shut down the Qantas Club at the airport. The message that the article sends is clear: funding for film making in New South Wales is imperative to unlock extra tourism revenue and inject extra funds into local economies.
This has been illustrated on many occasions, for instance when Australia exploited the popularity of Crocodile Dundee
in the 1980s to boost tourism and how the Lord of the Rings
was used in New Zealand to successfully increase tourism to that country. I sincerely hope that the reforms contained in the Filming Related Legislation Amendment Bill will lead to increased expenditure on film projects in New South Wales, which in turn lead to a much needed boost to tourism in New South Wales.
Mr BRAD HAZZARD
(Wakehurst) [4.42 p.m.]: It gives me great pleasure to support the Filming Related Legislation Amendment Bill 2008. The purpose of the bill is to amend a number of other Acts to reduce or simplify regulatory impediments to the carrying out of filming projects. Twenty years ago I might not have appreciated the full import of what regulatory impediments can do to the arts, to film, to theatre, and to live music, to which the member for Strathfield earlier referred. My osmosis in the past 20 years has occurred because my son Andrew has opened my eyes to the world of acting.
Andrew has lived for acting since the day he was born. He has shown my wife Beth and my other son David what life can be like with a passion for what one is going to do in life. In that journey I have come into contact with many wonderful people in the arts and in theatre. I have seen young people who are fired with a passion for the arts learning their craft through various schools. Andrew started his journey at the Warringah Performing Arts School at Brookvale. At the moment he attends the Actors Centre Australia at Surry Hills. There are two leading acting schools in New South Wales: the National Institute of Dramatic Art, which is attached to the University of New South Wales, and the Actors Centre Australia, at Surry Hills, which is a private college with Dean Carey, Creative Director, and Hugh Jackman the patron.
Last Friday week I attended a performance of the class of 2008 at the Actors Centre Australia. The Minister for the Arts, Mr Frank Sartor,
was in attendance, along with Peter Garrett and Hugh Jackman. We were in an audience of about 50 people and we saw 22 students who are about to graduate from the centre go through their paces to show what they have learnt in the last two and a half years. Anything that the Parliament can do, anything the Government can do, and anything we can do both as the Opposition and as a Government when we win office, to open up career vistas for our young actors, actresses and all those who enter the theatre and film industries and the other arts, is high on my agenda. As the potential Planning Minister I declare my door open to anybody in New South Wales who wants to come and talk to me about what we should be doing to ensure that the arts are given much greater encouragement in this State. I want to hear from you.
There is no question that the bill does go some way to making it a little easier for filming to be undertaken in council areas, on Crown lands and in national parks across New South Wales. Effectively the bill provides a presumption that directors and producers will be able to make their films in areas that might otherwise have been off-limits, unless there is a very good reason not to do so. I support that provision but I also support far more than that.
The industry would say that the Government could do many other things. Governments in other States and overseas have been far more proactive than New South Wales in finding ways to support the arts, particularly in the making of film and the production of theatre. As I mentioned, I have met some wonderful young people whose careers are now dependent upon there being opportunities in this country. But if there are not going to be opportunities in this country then they will have to go offshore. That may well be a good career progression for them but it would be a loss to Australia and to New South Wales if our finest have to go offshore instead of making films, producing theatre and undertaking artistic activities in this country.
I think particularly of the young people involved in the ancillary areas of film production. Cameron Darcy, whom I have known since his first year of high school, is now a colourist—I did not know there was such an occupation as a colourist—on the Baz Luhrmann film Australia
with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. We have the technical expertise in this country, as evidenced by Cameron Darcy's first job straight out of school at a company called Cutting Edge—I did not know that such companies existed. On Cameron's 21st birthday he spoke about his passion, his opportunity for learning and the people of great expertise and skill who are teaching him on the job to be a colourist on one of the world's great movie opportunities, Australia
I share the passion and the excitement of people in the technical area, such as Cameron D'Arcy, and those who want to be on film in front of the cameras, such as my son Andrew. The Liberal Party and The Nationals, and I hope the Labor Party, must open up the vista and provide more opportunities by reducing charges or introducing more regulatory reform to make it easier to undertake film shoots in New South Wales. We have to do whatever it takes to get back to the cutting edge of making films and promoting filmmaking in New South Wales as a worthwhile pursuit. Young people have their dreams. As a Parliament, we must assist these young people to bring their dreams to reality through film and theatre. If we allow a regulatory framework to impinge upon their dreams and passion, we have failed as legislators.
The other night at a performance at the Actors Centre Australia at Surry Hills, Hugh Jackman was sitting behind me and in front of me was Midnight Oil singer Peter Garrett. I do not refer to his Labor affiliations; I am more interested in his arts abilities. We have people such as Hugh Jackman from the acting sphere, great musicians such as Peter Garrett and a range of technical people who support them and show them in their best possible light taking Australia to the world right here in New South Wales. Let us do whatever it takes—to use a phrase of a Labor Party stalwart of bygone years—to ensure that New South Wales is at the cutting edge and that we provide the necessary environment to allow these people to follow their dreams. Their dreams are our dreams too.
Ms GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN
(Willoughby) [4.51 p.m.]: I speak to the Filming Related Legislation Amendment Bill 2008 as a supporter of the arts, in particular, the New South Wales film and television industry. Many residents in the Willoughby electorate are involved in the film and television industry and strongly support this community, as do I. I place on record the great work that was done by my predecessor Peter Collins, who as the longest serving Arts Minister in this State developed the New South Wales film and television industry and left a lasting legacy. I hope his legacy continues and grows. Regrettably, notwithstanding comments made by members of this House and others, in the past couple of years the New South Wales film and television industry has not received the support it deserves. A survey conducted by the New South Wales Filmmakers Group in 2005-06, a mere two or three years ago, found that production levels were at an all-time low and many people in the industry were struggling. This bill is a good start in resurrecting the industry, but there is a lot more to do.
The bill addresses some concerns by simplifying and removing many of the regulatory impediments that have made New South Wales unattractive for the film and television industry, particularly compared with Queensland and Victoria. I am relieved and pleased that the Government has introduced this bill, which will remove some of those impediments. It is a good start, but there is a long way to go. There is a lot to be done to boost the film and television industry to the point it was at a decade ago. As well as noting the contribution to the arts of my predecessor Peter Collins and the New South Wales film and television industry, I place on record issues that have been raised with me by constituents who teach film and television studies at TAFE. They have put that the Government must establish centres of excellence within TAFE so that people can undertake their studies at specialised facilities. At present, TAFE campuses cannot compete with each other to attract a talent pool. Relatively speaking, courses at TAFE would be more reasonably priced than at other establishments, thereby permitting people of various backgrounds to undertake this study.
I also place on record the concerns of people in the industry that the Government introduce additional measures in the near future, such as better resourcing of the New South Wales Film and Television Office, which would allow New South Wales to compete with other States for international productions. I note the comments made by the shadow Minister for the Arts, Jillian Skinner, about the increased support of the industry in Queensland and Victoria compared with that in New South Wales. Some people in the industry support centralisation of the regulatory approval process, the creation of a single central point of contact for the organisation of a film shoot, and assistance in organising locations and negotiating council costs and bureaucratic procedures—all time-consuming tasks that may hinder people who want to shoot films in New South Wales. The industry also wants greater incentives—such as, payroll incentives, employment rebates and cast and crew salary rebates—to make New South Wales competitive again with other States. Such incentives would promote the industry in New South Wales.
I join with my colleagues on this side of the House to support the bill. Although it is a good start, it does not go far enough to address the concerns of the industry. It is a first step in resurrecting, regrettably, an industry in decline over the past decade. I place on record my gratitude to the people in my electorate who have spoken to me about the industry—the many film and television industry employees at Channel 9, which is located in my electorate; those who support the industry through TAFE; and others who support the arts and want to see this industry flourish in New South Wales. I emphasise my support for the arts community and the New South Wales film and television industry. I reiterate that the Opposition supports the arts and recognises its importance to our community and culture. It is a career path for many young people. We must ensure their drive, enthusiasm and talent are maintained within our boundaries and that the industry flourishes in New South Wales.
Mr JOHN WILLIAMS
(Murray-Darling) [4.57 p.m.]: I support the Filming Related Legislation Amendment Bill 2008. Broken Hill is a site that offers no impediments to filmmaking. Filmmakers have been coming to Broken Hill and the Far West for more than 40 years because of the unique combination of its landscape and infrastructure. The region's reputation speaks for itself. It has hosted more than 50 feature films, television and documentary productions and more television commercials then Film Broken Hill can put a number on. Filmmakers have shaped their films in the Broken Hill region and, in some ways, their filmmaking has shaped the region. Broken Hill locations are diverse and unique, wrapped in magical light, surrounded by deafening silence and with horizons that stretch forever. One of the major supporters of the film industry in Broken Hill is Film Broken Hill. Film Broken Hill is a joint initiative of the Far West Regional Development Board, the New South Wales Department of State and Regional Development, the Commonwealth Department of Transport and Regional Services, Broken Hill City Council and local freelance technicians. It operates under the wing of the council and in close collaboration with the New South Wales Film and Television Office.
Film Broken Hill is serious about the business of filmmaking and provides a one-stop information and referral service to filmmakers and commercial photographers who are interested in outback locations. It assists with location inquiries, the referral of local technicians, facilities and businesses and the tracking of location clearances and approvals. It also provides in-kind assistance for recces and inbound missions, location scouting at no charge, the provision of images from its database online on CD or via hard copy, and on-set liaison services. Historically, funding for Film Broken Hill came from various sources, including $40,000 from the New South Wales Department of Regional Development, $40,000 from the Far West Regional Development and $80,000 from Broken Hill City Council.
Film Broken Hill, through the Broken Hill tourism industry, is currently pitching its kits to the industry and Bollywood. It is also updating its website and looking forward to more local productions. Film Broken Hill currently relies on that website alone. Representations have been made to the Government on many occasions for someone to be employed on a full-time basis not only to continually upgrade the website but also to communicate with potential film, television and commercial producers to have Broken Hill recognised as a site for the development of our film industry. This is about the State Government's responsibility to promote and develop filmmaking in New South Wales and to take advantage of a site that already exists, with infrastructure that has been proven to support filmmaking. It could provide actors with a great opportunity to start their careers. I remind members that Mel Gibson filmed Mad Max II
in Broken Hill, and that was the start of his career. The great Chips Rafferty was born in Broken Hill and featured in the film Wake in Fright.
He went on to a great career in movies.
Broken Hill was a stepping stone—a start—for many other actors in their careers. Another great movie filmed at Broken Hill was The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
. I am sure the Minister is well acquainted with that great film, but if she has not enjoyed it I suggest she hire the DVD and watch it, because I think the Minister is very arty and she would love it. Razorback
, Dirtwater Dynasty
and A Town Like Alice
were all filmed in Broken Hill, although many people think A Town Like Alice
was filmed in Alice Springs; Broken Hill did not get recognition for the movie.
Back in 1967 the first movie that was made in Broken Hill was Journey Into Darkness
, which was a sort of science-fiction movie. I do not know whether it is available on DVD, but I am sure the Minister will go out tonight and see if she can get a copy of it. It should be great viewing, but the Minister should make sure she has the lights on because I am told it is a bit scary. The Government should recognise that Broken Hill provides a great opportunity for the film industry: it has the infrastructure and people who are trained in filmmaking. This could be the start of something really great. With the right sort of funding and the right sort of support we could develop the film industry in Broken Hill and provide many great actors and actresses with a start to their acting careers.
Ms PRU GOWARD
(Goulburn) [5.03 p.m.]: I support the Filming Related Legislation Amendment Bill 2008. I think we all agree that the tourism potential of the film industry is quite remarkable. The filming of Babe
in the Southern Highlands has done a phenomenal amount for tourism in the Southern Highlands and has confirmed that it is a beautiful spot that people want to visit in much the same way as I am sure the filming of Sirens
in the Blue Mountains confirmed the importance of the Blue Mountains as a tourist area and resulted in benefits flowing to the Norman Lindsay Foundation.
Of course, a local film industry is a great boost to skilled employment. We talk constantly in Australia about the need to be a smart workforce. The days of competing with the rest of the world for unskilled labour are clearly numbered, but it is clear that we are a very creative nation, and, as the member for Murray-Darling has indicated, this is a great place to develop a vibrant and local film industry so that kids do not have to pay their way to New York or Los Angeles to get a start in an acting career.
I support these amendments and in particular the removal of red tape. Wishbone
, a short movie that has been shot in the Southern Highlands and is now in the editing stage, is facing a $10,000 shortfall, mostly because of public liability insurance costs. It would be useful for the Government to review public liability insurance to see whether it is the impediment to low-budget movies that people in that end of the film industry believe it to be.
I take a risk in saying this, but I believe the most important thing about these amendments is that they are not about needing more money. It has been very easy in Australia to assume that the way to have a vibrant film industry is to subsidise it. We are competing with a trillion dollar industry in the United States of America and an extremely affluent industry in the United Kingdom—and, of course, Bollywood in India—none of which relies on government subsidies. We would need an enormous amount of subsidy to make us competitive with those film industries. What we do need, however, is the removal of red tape.
There is something about a government-driven industry and an industry that is overly regulated and controlled—and, indeed, when government funding is part of it—that causes it to produces films that are not necessarily what the populous wants to see. The market and the wonderful creative people in our film industry are at their best and their most responsive when they are unfettered by regulation. I am not saying, of course, all regulation should go, but I believe much of the commercial regulation that has faced the New South Wales film industry has been a deterrent to the production of films that people want to watch because it deters creative people from being a part of it and they go elsewhere. I join my colleagues in supporting this legislation.
Mr DARYL MAGUIRE
(Wagga Wagga) [5.07 p.m.]: It is clear from the enthusiastic participation of all members and the way in which they have expressed their views about the Filming Related Industry Amendment Bill 2008 that we all have a very keen interest in the industry and in promoting what is a wonderful industry that produces and has produced great actors and television producers, et cetera. A number of weeks ago Charles Sturt University celebrated University Week with a display in Parliament House. This was an opportunity for the university to launch its new Centre for Indigenous Studies, located at Dubbo, where a high percentage of the indigenous population is dispersed. I note that the Minister responsible for this bill launched the centre, and I congratulate her on her involvement. The university has taken an important step and I was delighted to be at the launch.
Importantly, in the Fountain Court there was a display of work by the university's photography students and staff from the School of Visual and Performing Arts, created to demonstrate the role of Charles Sturt in the lives of inland communities. I hope members had the opportunity to view that exhibition. Through its courses, Charles Sturt University is producing many of the very talented people who are involved in the film industry. A quick search of the university's website reveals a number of courses including Bachelor of Arts (Television Production), Bachelor of Arts (Animation and Visual Arts Effects) and Bachelor of Arts (Graphic Design)/Bachelor of Arts (Multimedia Arts). The list goes on.
What Charles Sturt University has done in regional New South Wales should be mentioned in this debate. While the university is busy offering these courses and turning out individuals with great skills who are valued by the media, we must ensure that even small pieces of legislation like this remove impediments to film companies and others who want to make films in New South Wales. We should encourage them by removing red tape at every opportunity and demonstrating that the people of New South Wales and, importantly, the Government, are behind the work they do and appreciate the economic impact they have on the State's finances. That approach would support the work of the wonderful people at Charles Sturt University.
The Vice-Chancellor and President of the University, Professor Ian Goulter, said in his report:
... our geography also provides us with our direction and our purpose. 'Inland' is where we work and where we live. It is the historic heart of our nation's economic prosperity and character. It is the food bowl, the energy source and the primary producer of our nation. It is the source of a major part of the nation's gross domestic product and international exports. 'Inland' is the home of great innovation and invention—our remoteness, our climate, our participation in a competitive global economy and the challenge of ensuring access to critical services for small populations have driven innovation and invention in our inland communities since the time of settlement.
Students who participated in courses delivered by the university are now in Beijing working as cameramen and camerawomen, and as technicians and specialists helping to put together the Olympic Games television broadcast. They will deliver the Olympic Games broadcast to Australians. However, when the Olympic Games is over they must have other opportunities to participate in the industry and to enhance their skills. Of course, that means encouragement in the form of policies that provide job opportunities and improve their economic input into this State.
I urge Minister Burney, the Minister at the table, to do more. As the member for Southern Highlands said, it is not always about money; it is about creating an environment that encourages people to go to places such as Broken Hill—as suggested by the member for Murray-Darling—the Southern Highlands, Adelong, Tumut or Batlow, which have wonderful scenery. We have a lot to offer, but I impress upon the Minister that we need more action. Red tape must be reduced and the Government should provide policy frameworks that will give these Charles Sturt University students more opportunities to enhance their skills.
Ms LINDA BURNEY
(Canterbury—Minister for Fair Trading, Minister for Youth, and Minister for Volunteering) [5.14 p.m.], in reply: I thank all members who have participated in this debate. The bill demonstrates the Government's strong commitment to the New South Wales screen industry. The Premier introduced the film-friendly initiative to Cabinet early in 2008. His commitment to this initiative is indicative of the Iemma Government's commitment to the New South Wales film industry. The fact that the Opposition supports the bill and acknowledges it as a real effort to reduce red tape and to make New South Wales more film friendly speaks volumes for the Premier's approach. This film-friendly package requires coordination across many arms of State Government and, most importantly, cooperation with local government. The industry is important to New South Wales both as a means of artistic expression and development and, as a number of speakers has indicated, as a source of economic growth. It generates income, jobs and investment, and promotes tourism to New South Wales.
The bill will remove unnecessary red tape affecting on-location filming in New South Wales and will ensure that local council fees associated with film projects are set in a transparent manner and on a cost-reflective basis. The bill creates a presumption that councils will grant approval for film projects. It also creates a presumption that filming will be allowed in national park estates if heritage and environmental values are preserved. Some very good work has been done in that regard and, as a result, national parks and sensitive areas will be available for filming if environmental values are adhered to and correct procedures are followed. I think everyone can appreciate the importance of that approach.
The bill encourages councils to grant approvals with conditions for location shooting rather than outright refusals. Again, a number of members raised that issue as an important point. Local councils will be required to comply with a revised local government filming protocol that will be developed in consultation with councils, government agencies and the screen industry. Councils have been consulted as part of the process. Comments were sought on the existing local government filming protocol, which has been in place in Sydney since September 2000. In February 2008, officers from the Department of State and Regional Development, the New South Wales Film and Television Office and the Department of Premier and Cabinet met with the Local Government and Shires Associations to discuss the proposed legislation. The Local Government and Shires Associations was advised that the Government proposed to revise the existing local government filming protocol through a consultative process with the associations, councils and affected government agencies.
The bill provides that the director general of the Department of Local Government will consult with appropriate stakeholders before issuing or approving a filming protocol. It is expected that the consultation process will take several months and will closely involve the Local Government and Shires Associations and local councils. Given that involvement, I am confident that we will get a very good outcome. It is acknowledged that for the new protocol to work, local councils and the industry must be active participants and act in partnership.
Before concluding I will address a number of the issues raised by members. I advise the member for Hornsby that the bill will ensure that a proper balance is maintained between the community, the environment and the economy. I also assure the member that the bill removes unnecessary obstacles to on-location filming but preserves important considerations relating to the community and the environment.
The member for Wakehurst compared the situation in New South Wales with the situation in Victoria and Queensland. I make it clear that New South Wales has been the primary base of film and television production in Australia for a long time. It is important to remember that Victoria and Queensland are relative newcomers to the industry. It is not as though we are starting from ground zero, and that solid base should be taken into consideration. Members opposite probably did not cover that adequately. As I said, Victoria and Queensland are newcomers to the industry. It is important that our film-friendly initiative strengthens our established industry leadership—and I emphasise "established industry leadership". That point was completely overlooked in the whingeing and repetitive press release issued by the member for North Shore. It is important to support our industry, not to put it down.
I commend the member for Wakehurst for his support for the arts. That is understood and his passion came through in his contribution. He made reference to Lord of the Rings
. New Zealand built its film industry on sustainable production and a strong talent pool. The New South Wales Government is supporting a similar strategy: it supports large-scale productions such as Wolverine
, both of which are currently in production. Part of our strategy is a strong commitment to partnering with major companies, for example, Kennedy Miller and Animal Logic. It is nonsense to think we can put borders around the film industry. The New South Wales Government is working not just with companies in New South Wales or, indeed, Australia but also internationally. That is important. New South Wales' strategy is also committed to strengthening the talent base through Film and Television Office mentorship.
I move now to a couple of comments made by the member for Willoughby. I advise her again, and make clear, that the Government is a strong supporter of the film and television industry in New South Wales. That is not spin; members in this Chamber know it to be true. The Government, through the New South Wales Film and Television Office, fosters and encourages talented people in the industry. It provides funding for script and project development, which is incredibly important and fundamental to growth. The Film and Television Office also provides funding to the Sydney Film Festival, and the member for Strathfield detailed that. It also promotes public interest in films. It may have escaped the attention of those opposite that this year the Government reduced the payroll tax rate across the board from 6 per cent to 5.5 per cent, over the next three years.
Mr Andrew Fraser:
The threshold is higher.
Ms LINDA BURNEY:
The member for Coffs Harbour should not try to be an economist, because he is not. The payroll tax threshold has also been reduced. These cuts should encourage investment in New South Wales in general, including in the film and television industry. The member for Murray-Darling, as entertaining as he was—he made some very good statements and is obviously proud of the focus on Broken Hill—should remember there are offices across regional New South Wales: Broken Hill for the far west, the mid North Coast, the Northern Rivers, Hunter-Central Coast, the Northern Tablelands, Central West and the Illawarra. All these communities have regional film offices and partnerships between local councils, the industry and the Iemma Government. The member for Wagga Wagga spoke about the connection between training institutions and growing talent. That is also something the Government is aware of and is very supportive of. That was evidenced particularly by the exercise in Parliament a few weeks ago.
There are a number of other initiatives. It is inaccurate to say this legislation is the only focus that the Iemma Government has on growing the screen industry in New South Wales. The Government is doing a number of other things to encourage and support the New South Wales screen industry. I will not go through them all except to say that government agencies have also been asked to support the screen industry by doing three things: processing applications to use public locations and services promptly and not unreasonably refusing applications; appointing a film contact officer who will assist filmmakers in obtaining the necessary approvals, support and access to government agencies; and having their film access policies on websites.
The Government will also simplify road rules regulating temporary road closures and traffic management associated with films. I have outlined most of the other points, except to say that the bill forms one part of the Government's film-friendly strategy to cut red tape, to attract international films to New South Wales and to boost local film and television production. I commend the bill to the House.
Question—That this bill be now agreed to in principle—put and resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Bill agreed to in principle.
Passing of the Bill
Bill declared passed and transmitted to the Legislative Council with a message seeking its concurrence in the bill.