Renewed calls to lift Australian screen incentives

17 December, 2013 by Don Groves

The New Zealand government’s decision to raise the tax offset for international production to 25% and local TV production to 40% has prompted renewed calls from Australian screen producers and the actors and technicians' union to improve the Oz rebates.

Screen Producers Australia and the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance clearly fear their members will lose work to NZ, particularly in view of the lower Kiwi dollar.


Matthew Deaner, Executive Director of Screen Producers Australia, said the Kiwi measures are a “critical reminder that Australia needs to modernise its own offsets if we are to remain competitive in the international arena in terms of both growing our local industry and retaining our skilled talent base.”

MEAA’s Entertainment, Crew and Sport director Mal Tulloch said, “Our tax rebates are no longer internationally competitive and they do not compensate in any way for the high Australian dollar.”

The MEAA has long campaigned to increase Australia’s location from 16.5% to 30% to make filming in Australia more attractive compared with the US, Canada and elsewhere.

However senior film industry figures tell IF the Australian government is unlikely to raise the location offset or double the TV offset to 40% in the foreseeable future while it faces yawning budget deficits and preaches austerity.

In light of the NZ government’s initiatives which clinched the deal for James Cameron to shoot the three Avatar sequels in the country, SPA and the MEAA felt the need to restate the case to improve Australia’s competitiveness.

“If we want to build a sustainable film industry in this country we need some security and some certainty. There are thousands of crew and performers who desperately need the work these international productions provide.” said Tulloch.

Deaner said: “The recently announced Free Trade Agreement with the Republic of Korea and the opportunities this brings for screen co-production is a positive move in the right direction in opening up commercial opportunities for Australian screen producers with our fourth largest trading partner.

“Government and industry have a combined role to increase foreign engagement in our sector by jointly working to strengthen regional partnerships and updating and finalising more co-production agreements.

“However the strength of these partnerships are dependent on supporting infrastructure. We must retain our competitive advantage in order to continue to deliver the benefits that the screen industry offers to our economy, our skill base, our employment pathways, the growth of competitive small businesses and our national story telling.”