Entertainment Industry (Interim Council) Amendment Bill



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SpeakersShaw The Hon Jeffrey; Samios The Hon James; Kirkby The Hon Elisabeth; Nile Reverend The Hon Fred; Macdonald The Hon Ian; Gardiner The Hon Jennifer; Hannaford The Hon John
BusinessBill, Second Reading

ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY (INTERIM COUNCIL) AMENDMENT BILL
Second Reading

Debate resumed from 21st April.

The Hon. J. W. SHAW [6.15]: The Opposition does not oppose this bill, which is narrow in its scope. The effect of the bill is to extend the life of the Entertainment Industry Interim Council until 1st January, 1994. In 1989 Parliament legislated to establish the Entertainment Industry Interim Council, which by section 6 of the Entertainment Industry Act was given the role of fostering the development of an entertainment industry regulatory body controlled by members of the industry. It also has a general role of providing advice to the Minister. For reasons which are not readily apparent, but I suppose are understandable, it appears that the council has not been able to complete its work as was envisaged in 1989.

Section 7 of the 1989 Act provided that the council would be dissolved three years after the commencement of the part, hence the need to extend its life by this legislation. The Opposition will be concerned to scrutinise and form a view about any plan for an entertainment industry regulatory body that the interim council ultimately constructs, but we certainly cannot see any harm in the interim council being able to complete its work. Whatever might be our ultimate view of the entertainment industry regulatory body which is constructed, we do not oppose the idea of the existing council being allowed to complete its work nor the extension contemplated by this legislation.

The Hon. J. M. SAMIOS [6.16]: The objects of the Entertainment Industry Act are to promote the development and growth of the entertainment industry; to provide for the development of codes of ethics for the entertainment industry; to provide a forum for the hearing and resolution of complaints in the entertainment industry; and to develop a framework that will provide for the self-regulation of the entertainment industry. The legislation was enacted in 1989 and reflects the recommendations of the ministerial committee which reviewed the then existing theatrical agents and employers legislation contained in the Industrial Arbitration Act 1940. At that time the committee was chaired by the present Attorney General and Minister for Industrial Relations, the Hon. J. P. Hannaford, and was made up of representatives of agents, employers, unions and proprietors within the industry. A broad review of the industry was conducted by the committee and agreement was reached by the parties in formulating the recommendations contained in the report, which became the basis for the legislation.

The role of the council is an important one, providing for the development of an industry-based self-regulatory body. The entertainment industry is an important service industry catering for the entertainment needs of the people of New South Wales. With more leisure time available and a difficult economic climate, the entertainment industry becomes even more pivotal to the social cohesion of our society. The legislation covers all forms of entertainment, including live, filmed and televised performances by actors, singers, dancers, models, musicians and performers of any kind, and represents a dynamic and innovative move towards industry self-regulation and a minimum of government intervention.

When the Hon. J. J. Fahey was the Minister for Industrial Relations he emphasised several times that
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the industry would receive ongoing support and assistance from the Government in setting up a self-regulating system. The Entertainment Industry Interim Council was set up under part 2 of the Act to develop a self-regulatory body within the industry and to assist in developing guidelines and principles to be adopted by that body in relation to the entertainment industry. Originally it was contemplated that the council would require two to three years to complete its obligations under the legislation, and consequently provisions were included in the Act whereby the council would furnish the Minister with a report on the abovementioned matters within two years of the commencement of the legislation, and that it would be dissolved three years after such commencement.

As the Act was commenced on 18th May, 1990, the date on which the interim council is to be dissolved under the legislation is 18th May, 1993. The council has found, however, that due to the innovative nature of the work it has undertaken and the nature of the industry, together with the limited resources available to it, it has had insufficient time to finalise its report to the Minister. It has made representations that the life of the council be extended by seven months to the end of the year, by which time the report will be finalised and presented to the Minister. In view of the importance of the legislation to the entertainment industry and the Government's commitment to ongoing support of the council and its work, the bill seeks to amend the Entertainment Industry Act 1989 to extend the date on which the council must furnish the Minister with its report and dissolve to 1st January, 1994. The bill is good housekeeping legislation. The Attorney General is to be commended for the legislation. I am pleased to support the bill.

The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY [6.21]: When I became aware that the Entertainment Industry (Interim Council) Amendment Bill was to come before the House today I thought of the following biblical quotation, "The mills of God grind slow, but they grind exceeding small". I am beginning to wonder whether I shall still be a member of this House when this legislation is finally enacted. The legislation had its genesis when I was vice-president of Actors Equity in 1977. A delegation from Actors Equity went to see the then Minister, Mr Pat Hills, and negotiations were commenced with the Minister for regulation in the industry, particularly regulation of theatrical agents. I was also involved with the Hon. Barrie Unsworth in the formation of the Models Guild; up until that time models had been grossly exploited. When there was a change of administration in 1988 the Leader of the Government was given the job of trying to sort out this long-running inquiry into what should happen. The Entertainment Industry (Interim Council) Amendment Bill was the result. That council was set up in 1989.

A few moments ago the Hon. J. M. Samios referred to the innovative nature of the work that the council was doing. I point out to the honourable member that by and large the industry has been involved in attempting to get this legislation off the ground for the past 16 years. But after four years on the job, the interim council wants more time. I am beginning to wonder whether the council will want more time for some other reason when we get to the end of this year. I shall wait with interest to see what happens in subsequent months. I realise that there are many conflicting agendas and personalities involved in this. Obviously I support the bill. There has been consultation with the industry and it is asking for more time; I do not think that we are in a position to deny it. I beg and pray that the council uses this next few months productively and that by 1st January, 1994, the Government will be in a position to proceed with the legislation, that the council will exist and regulation - long deferred and much needed - will also exist. I support the bill.

Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE [6.24]: The Call to Australia group supports the Entertainment Industry (Interim Council) Amendment Bill. The object of the bill is to amend the Entertainment Industry Act 1989 to postpone the date at which the council must exercise its general functions under section 6 of the Act - including reporting to the Attorney General and Minister for Industrial Relations as described above - to 1st January, 1994. The date on which the council is dissolved is also postponed to 1st January, 1994. It may be that there is a reluctance by the entertainment industry to set up a regulatory body. As the entertainment industry is an ad hoc industry, it may prefer to operate in that way in case the regulatory body seeks to impose certain regulations on the industry which it does not want. I hope that this bill will speed up the whole process, that a report can be presented to the Minister, and a regulatory body established.

The Hon. I. M. MACDONALD [6.26]: As a member of the appropriate union under discussion -

The Hon. J. P. Hannaford: That explains some of the performances from time to time.

The Hon. I. M. MACDONALD: The Attorney General has interrupted me, as usual. I am not a member of the actors union; I am a member of the former theatrical union, which encompasses clowns in this State. Notwithstanding this point, I am happy to endorse this bill. The theatrical union is now a part of the Arts and Media Alliance - that great, fabulous union - which also includes Actors Equity, of which my colleague the Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby is a member, and the Australian Journalists Association. It is a great alliance. This legislation has been designed to help stamp out some of the worst practices in the industry. I am pleased that the Government is seeking to extend the terms of the Entertainment Industry Act, particularly the functions of the council, in endeavouring to ensure that in future members of my union will not suffer the trials and tribulations that they have in the past, prior to a decent entertainment Act.

The Hon. JENNIFER GARDINER [6.28]: I support the extension of the life of the interim council of the entertainment industry. As the Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby has said, this is a long-running show. It is obvious that the council has not been able to fulfil the
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objects of the Act in the time it has been given; namely, to promote development and growth of the entertainment industry, to provide for the development of codes and ethics, to provide a forum for the hearing and resolution of complaints in the industry and to develop a framework that provides for the self-regulation of the industry. As has been mentioned by previous speakers, the council has to furnish a report to the Minister on its establishment, composition and functions by 18th May. It is unable to do that - apparently due to a lack of resources - so there is a need for this amendment. It could not do all of the things set out in the legislation in its interim life. The Attorney General has agreed to the council's representations to introduce a bill to extend its life to 31st December, 1993. That amendment will enable the council to fulfil its obligations under the Act and allow it to finish its work as an interim council. I support the bill.

The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD (Attorney General, Minister for Industrial Relations, and Vice-President of the Executive Council) [6.30], in reply: I thank honourable members for their comments in support of the bill. I also join them in their aspirations for the future of this council.

Motion agreed to.

Bill read a second time and passed through remaining stages.