Actors take the fight for future of Aussie film and TV industry to Canberra
On Tuesday actors Susie Porter, Geoff Morrell and John Howard met with key senators to campaign against an Abbott Government proposal to cut requirements for taxpayer-funded productions to employ Australian actors and crew.
Porter said: “Local actors like me need every possible opportunity to be cast in local productions. It’s how we get our training, it’s how we make a name for ourselves, it’s how we tell Australian stories.”
Howard said: “The current guidelines don’t prevent big names from coming here. That’s not their purpose. What they do is make sure that a production funded by Australian taxpayers gives job opportunities to Australian performers. Productions with a lot of foreign finance can – and do – hire whoever they want. ”
The Abbott Government quietly announced a review of the s.420 entertainment visa requirements earlier this month. According to its terms, the purpose of the review is to “reduce the burden and cost of unnecessary or inefficient regulation”.
Independent Senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon joined Howard, Porter and Morrell in opposing any abolition of the protections for Australians employed in tax-payer supported films and television productions.
“These rules have been crucial in developing the Australian film and television sector and making a viable career pathway for many thousands of talented Australians. The problem with the Government’s so called war on red tape is that the real casualties will be Australian actors and crew.” said Xenophon.
Actors Equity director Zoe Angus said: “The Abbott Government is trying to wind back visa requirements for overseas actors as part of its agenda to ‘cut red tape’ and deregulate overseas worker visas. If they succeed, opportunities for talented young Australian performers and crew will diminish.
“We all know Australia produces great actors and technicians. But they don’t come from nowhere. International stars like Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush and Rose Byrne started their acting careers as unknowns in TV and film productions supported by taxpayer funding.”
Morrell said: “We think that when Australian taxpayers’ funding is used to subsidise film and television content, Australian actors should be prioritised for lead and support roles. This not only leads to genuinely Australian content, but it strengthens our industry and creates career pathways for Australian actors.”
The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance filed its submission to the review yesterday. The Arts Department said the intention is to enact any amendments, subject to the government’s views and priorities, this year.