MEAA to fight moves to change imported actors guidelines

14 January, 2015 by Don Groves

The MEAA will mount a campaign to try to preserve its consultative role with federal government in determining which foreign actors and crew are permitted to work in Australian taxpayer-subsidised screen productions.

The union flagged its plans in response to this week’s announcement that the government is reviewing the regulations governing the importing of film and TV performers and production personnel.


In a discussion paper the government raised the options of no longer consulting with the MEAA, removing the requirement for certification from the Arts Minister or replacing that with the need to demonstrate the nominated activity will bring a net employment benefit to Australia or have no adverse effect on Australian employment and training opportunities

The MEAA will “campaign vigorously to protect opportunities for local actors and crew during the federal government’s review," the union told its members today. “According to its terms…  the purpose of the review is to 'support the whole of government deregulation agenda' within the arts industry.”

Actors’ Equity director Zoe Angus said: “We always welcome the opportunity to work with the government, producers, writers, directors and other industry stake holders to ensure screen production thrives in this country.

“However, any attempts to dismantle industry protections that have created an incredible pool of talent that includes the likes of Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Chris Hemsworth and Joel Edgerton will be fiercely resisted by MEAA and our members.”

At present producers must satisfy the Arts department that films subsidised by Australian taxpayers have at least 50% of lead roles and 75% of support roles filled by Australian performers and that reasonable efforts have been made to cast Australians for all roles. MEAA is consulted when an application to import foreign cast or crew is made.

The union claims the government is proposing to scrap these guidelines.

“MEAA is vigilant in ensuring our policies, guidelines and industrial agreements are updated to best serve our members and the industry at large. We are always open to reviewing and discussing our foreign import guidelines with the relevant stake holders,” said Angus.

“However, the government is proposing overseas performers and technicians have unfettered access to jobs within our taxpayer-subsidised arts industry. This does not happen in the US or the UK. The current guidelines serve thousands of workers well and foster local talent. They are an essential protection to ensure local talent and skills are developed.”

The union will consult members before making a submission to the review.

The Arts department said the intention is to enact any amendments flowing from the review, subject to the government’s views and priorities, this year.

Interested parties are invited to comment on key components and deregulation opportunities by February 23. Submissions should be sent to: