Federal Government cuts Screen Australia funding a further $10.3 million
The Federal Government has cut Screen Australia's budget a further $10.3 million as part of the Mid-Year Economic Outlook – the third cut in 18 months.
The impact of the MYEFO budget cut on Screen Australia will mean a reduction of 10.3 million over four years or a three per cent cut, according to Screen Australia.
The total reductions to Screen Australia’s budgets since the 2014-15 Budget amount to $51.5 million.
Of this, $37.6 million came in the 2014-15 Budget, $3.6 million in the 2015-16 Budget, and $10.3 million in the 2015-16 MYEFO.
A spokeswoman for Screen Australia said while any cut was difficult, Screen Australia understood the fiscal position of the government.
"Screen Australia has been given the flexibility to manage the spread of the cut over the period in question which provides us with the opportunity to cushion the effects on the industry," she said.
"We believe we will be able to preserve program expenditure in 2015-16 and will work to limit the effect of the MYEFO reduction over the forward years to maintain as much as possible for our 'on screen' funding activities.
"This is particularly significant, as previously announced cuts require the agency to make $2.2 million of savings in 2016/17 and a further $2.35 million in 2017/18.
The spokeswoman said Screen Australia had some cash reserves originating from the former Film Finance Corporation’s provision of cash-flow loans to support the Producer Offset.
"These loans have now been paid back in full and can now be used to mitigate $4.3 million of the $10 million budget reduction," she said.
"In the forward years, it is not possible to say precisely where the cuts will be applied, because this depends on the number and quality of applications we receive across all our programs."
In 2014-15 there was $25 million cut, spread across four years.
Further cuts included the termination of the Australian games initiative in 2014-15, one year earlier than originally scheduled ($10 million impact in 2014-15), and the conclusion of interactive multiplatform funding in 2017-18 ($2.5 million impact in 2017-18).
Screen Producers Australia chief executive Matthew Deaner said the fresh funding cuts to Screen Australia would affect innovation and the global competitiveness of the Australian screen production industry.
"For the third time in 18 months there has been a funding cut to Screen Australia," he said.
"This efficiency dividend comes after almost $4 million was cut over the forward estimates earlier this year, on top of $38 million the year before.
"In the five years to 2018-19 this will total more than $50 million in combined cuts across budgets.
He said the cuts were hacking away at the base of the industry.
“Disappointingly, the cut comes a week after the prime minister's launch of the Innovation and Science Agenda where the screen industry’s contribution to innovation was recognised with a commitment to ‘reviewing the Location Offset designed to attract major motion pictures to be produced in Australia and provide jobs in our creative industries’.”
Deaner said the attraction of foreign fee-for-service work, co-production and domestic production are inextricably linked to inward investment in the sector and ultimately innovation in production businesses, processes and financing structures.
"This review serves as an opportunity to discuss a range of policy improvements with the new Minister," he said.
"But we cannot take for granted the critical support of Screen Australia in helping underpin these activities.”
“We need to ensure that the engine room of local production is not disadvantaged.
"Screen Australia needs to continue their search for operational efficiencies, as hard as this might be, because every cut to Screen Australia’s programs is a cut to business confidence.
"We need holistic policies that encourage more inward investment, more economic growth and more jobs through the ongoing production of projects of scale, be they under domestic or foreign control."