Doorstop with Minister for Communications and the Arts, Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, and Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, the Hon Steven Ciobo MP

  • Transcript, E&OE
04 May 2018

JULIEBISHOP: I'mdelighted to be here at the Village Roadshow Studios on the Gold Coast with mycolleagues Steven Ciobo, Mitch Fifield, Jane Prentice, Stuart Robert, Bert vanManen, Luke Howarth, and Ross Vasta, and with the Chief of Village RoadshowGraham Burke. Today the Turnbull Government has made a significant newannouncement in relation to our creative industries which will support jobs inthe film and television production sector. The Turnbull Government will providean additional $140 million over four years to attract international investmentto ensure that we can produce big budget films here in Australia. There isgreat competition for film production, and Australia is a much desiredlocation. We have a highly skilled workforce that can compete with the best inthe world. In order for us to remain competitive we needed this additionalincentive. I am delighted that this will mean more jobs for talented skilledAustralians - whether it is in acting, producing, directing or set design, animation,cinematography, make-up, hairstyling - all the components that make up abrilliant film production here in Australia. On average it will mean 3,000 jobsdirectly per film, and about 6,000 Australian business will provide goods andservices to any particular large budget film. Let me hand over to the architectof it, Mitch Fifield.

MITCHFIFIELD: ThanksJulie. Today really represents a dividend from good budget management. Youcan't establish projects such as this, $140 million over four years to supportAustralian jobs, unless you can repair the budget to create the opportunity forthis sort of investment. Today's announcement is all about jobs. We have the bestfilm industry in the world. We have terrific set designers, great screenwriters, directors, producers, carpenters and electricians as well - all ofthem combine together to create a world-class product. Around the world,filmmakers want to produce their product here in Australia, and what today'sannouncement does, it makes us internationally competitive by effectivelymaking the location offset at 30 per cent. It is great news for Australianjobs, great news for investment. Julie and Steven, who have worked with mycolleagues very hard on this, and Steven is the Tourism, Trade and InvestmentMinister is also really excited about the opportunities.

STEVENCIOBO: Thisis a terrific opportunity. It represents an additional investment by theCoalition Government to drive not only Australia's film and TV industry butalso to make sure that we have the spin-off benefits that flow from one of ourbiggest export industry which is Australia's tourism industry. We know thatAussies around the world hold key ambassadorial roles as effectively those whocarry the torch of Australian culture abroad. So any time you have NicoleKidman, or Russel Crowe, or Luke Bracey or a Margot Robbie on screen -

JULIEBISHOP: ChrisHemsworth.

STEVENCIOBO: Howcould I forget - I actually deliberately omitted Chris, Julie, so you could sayhis name - every single time they appear on the screen they help to reinforcethe message about the warmth of Australia, the welcomeness of Australia, andthe fact that we can actually use the film and TV industry to drive a major newtourism campaign in North America with the incredible success that we just sawwith the Dundee teaser trailer in January. We are going to make sure that weuse this program to not only boost directly, of course, our film and TVindustry but also leverage that to make an even more concerted effort to carrythe message that Australia is warm and welcome, but most importantly that therereally is nothing else like Australia, and that's why people should come andvisit this terrific country.

JULIEBISHOP: Graham,could you say a few words from the industry's perspective?

GRAHAMBURKE: Iwould just like to say how impressive it is that the three Ministers spokewithout a note, and with such understanding of the space, and with such caring,because it is about Australian jobs, creativity. It is about some kid that isgoing to learn something on the set, and in four or five years' time he will bedirecting a big league movie. This is a very exciting day for Australia. Thankyou.

JOURNALIST: How does the $140million compare to previous grants in the film industry in Australia?

MITCHFIFIELD: Previously,we have made grants on effectively an ad-hoc basis to bring the location offsetup to the equivalent of 30 per cent. What this $140 million does is providecertainty for the film industry and guarantees that there can be a pipeline ofwork which will be coming through the studios such as the one we are in. Wedon't want to see studios like this empty. We want to see them full ofactivity, full of Australians working, and that's what this will do.

JOURNALIST: Minister, why notjust increase the rebate to 30 per cent? Is it because by doing that you willlock that in for the future, and you couldn't roll that back without a biggerpolitical headache?

MITCHFIFIELD: Wewanted to do something concrete, practical, and do it now. This gives us theopportunity to assess this competitive grants program, and see how it works. Ifwe need to adjust it then we have the opportunity to do that. But what thisprogram will do is essentially meet the demand, and ensure that the Australianstudios have the work. There is a certain physical limit in terms ofinfrastructure that we have in Australia, but this funding will let us supportthat to ensure that it's utilised.

JOURNALIST: Annastacia Palaszczuk has been calling forsome time now for federal support for the industry. Have you finally heard her?Or have you been keeping her in suspense?

MITCH FIFIELD: Well, we have very strong Commonwealth support for the Australianfilm industry, and for investment into the Australian film industry. We havethe location offset at 16.5 per cent, and it's important to be clear, that 16.5per cent offset is what attracts people to look at Australia in the firstplace. What we're doing is effectively topping that up to 30 per cent. Wewelcome that state governments do, on occasion, chip in - but the lion's shareof the contribution is from the Commonwealth. What we're interested in is jobs.I know Annastacia Palaszczuk's a little more interested in partisan pointscoring. We're not interested in that. We just want to secure Australian jobs,and that's what we're doing today.

JOURNALIST: Minister Fifield, can you speak about theTelstra outage this morning which affected '000' calls?

JULIE BISHOP: Just before you do - that's all the questionson the offset?

JOURNALIST: This was one recommendation from the inquiry.What other initiatives can we expect to see rolled out, and what sort of timeline?

MITCH FIFIELD: Well, we've had two pieces of work - one was led by Luke Howarth,the Chair of the House of Representatives Communications and Arts Committee - thatwas a very important piece of work. What we're announcing today is givingeffect to one of the recommendations of the Howarth committee. He had a numberof other recommendations. We also have had, in parallel, a content review,which is still underway. We're going to be looking at all of those inputs tosee what it is that we can do to ensure that we have a good, strong Australianscreen industry.

JOURNALIST: Will there be anything in the Budget forhome-grown projects?

MITCH FIFIELD: We're announcing something from the Budget today, and I come backto the point that today's announcement is about Australian jobs. Yes, it'sabout foreign investment, but about jobs here in locations like this, and we willhave more to say later about the rest of the screen industry.

JOURNALIST: How will you determine what production houseswill be eligible for the funding grant?

MITCH FIFIELD: It will be a competitive grants process. We will have fundingguidelines which I'll be working on with my colleagues, including Julie andSteven. Once those are finalised, we will release those. But what this is aboutis making ourselves competitive. People have options as to where they makefilms. Many, many producers want to make films in Australia because they loveour talent, they love our people. What this does is it gives them the excuse,and the reason, to do just that.

JOURNALIST: Will you be looking at a minimum spendrequirement, like $100 million?

MITCH FIFIELD: There'll be things that are part of the guideline preparationsthat we have. We do have some current spend requirements for the currentoffsets. But we will be looking at those issues.

JOURNALIST: Just on the Telstra outage this morning - areyou quite concerned that it has obviously affected '000' calls right across thecountry?

MITCH FIFIELD: What's happened overnight is there's been a lightning strike nearOrange on a Telstra cable. That has disrupted some services in a number ofstates. There has been an effect on some '000' calls. Essentially, what the Telcosare doing is re-routing the traffic around the break in the cable. I've spokento the CEO of Telstra, Andy Penn, about this earlier today. I'll be talking tohim through the course of the day, and getting further updates.

JOURNALIST: Minister, when were you made aware of theoutage?

MITCH FIFIELD: I was made aware of the outage when I landed in Queensland thismorning. I got an early-morning flight from Sydney to Queensland, and therewere messages for me when I landed.

JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister, SKY News understands the Governmentis considering bringing in penalties of up to 10 years for directors of animalcruelty in the live animal export industry. Can you confirm that this is the case, and whynot just phase out the industry altogether?

JULIE BISHOP: The Australian Government is taking a verymeasured approach to reviewing the allegations that have been made about thelive animal export industry. It will not be a knee-jerk reaction, as Labor havesuggested. We've seen Labor's form before on how it handles an important sectorof the agricultural industry. That was when they unilaterally - and withoutnotice to anyone - cut off the beef export industry into Indonesia, thuscausing huge damage not only with our relationship with Indonesia, but for theIndonesian people, who relied on protein from beef from Australia. What we aredoing is, under our Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud, reviewing thecircumstances. We have a specific investigation underway that we will bereporting very shortly, and we will take on board the recommendations of thatinvestigation. We will do it in a measured, sober way, because thousands andthousands of jobs in Australia depend upon this trade. Australia does set someof the best standards in animal exports around the world. If Australia were tovacate the field, another nation that might not maintain the standards that wedo would fill that vacuum. So we are not going to have a knee-jerk reactionlike Labor is suggesting. It will be a measured, methodical approach, bearingin mind that thousands and thousands of Australians depend, for theiremployment, on this industry.

JOURNALIST: Would you like to see, though, penalties asharsh as 10 years' jail for directors implicit in animal cruelty?

JULIE BISHOP: We clearly do not condone animal cruelty inany shape or form. We have set up an inquiry into the current allegations, andthat will report in a very short period of time.

JOURNALIST: Another foreign issue - the PalestinianPresident's comments on the Holocaust, what are your thoughts on that?

JULIE BISHOP: We condemn any such comments by anyone,anywhere. It's deeply regrettable that such statements should be made. They areanti-Semitic. They go against the facts, the historical facts, and I'm deeplyconcerned that a leader would make such comments.

JOURNALIST: One more incentive question - will the newguidelines be broadened to apply to high-end television products, internationalTV productions?

MITCH FIFIELD: We're focusing this on the film industry, but obviously we willtake petitions as they arise.

JOURNALIST: Will it be spent evenly over four years? The$140 million?

MITCH FIFIELD: It will be $35 million per year.

JOURNALIST: The Telstra outage - they're saying, was on theback of a lightning strike. Is that acceptable, that states could lose accessto 000 from a lightning strike?

MITCH FIFIELD: What I've been advised is that there have been some intermittentdisruptions to a range of call types. I've asked the CEO of Telstra for furtheradvice as to what has happened, what the redundancies were, and what themitigations can be. I'll also be asking the Secretary of my Department for areport as well.

JOURNALIST: It's been described as 'unforgivable'. Is itunforgivable?

MITCH FIFIELD: The first thing that needs to be established is the facts, andwhat the mitigations were that were put in place, and what the redundancies shouldhave been, and did they come into effect. They're the questions that we willhave answered.

JOURNALIST: Whatever the redundancies were, Minister,would you want more safeguards?

MITH FIFIELD: I think it's important to find out preciselywhat happened, what actions were taken, and if there is the need for furtheractions to occur in the future.

JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister, Peter Dutton says why notbolster defence spy powers if it can disrupt the sharing of child pornography.Do you agree with him?

JULIE BISHOP: Peter Dutton and I are absolutely in agreementthat the Turnbull Government places as one of our highest priorities theprotection of the Australian people. We have invested record sums in oursecurity and intelligence agencies to keep Australians safe at home andoverseas. We will continue to seek to disrupt criminals and those who wouldseek to do harm to our people.

JOURNALIST: But as Peter Dutton said, do you thinkbolstering the powers would prevent the disruption, the sharing of childpornography?

JULIE BISHOP: You have to be specific about whose powersyou're talking about.

JOURNALIST: So you don't support a bolstering, full stop?

JULIE BISHOP: I didn't say that. I said, "Whose powersare you referring to?" Whose powers are you suggesting should bebolstered? Then I'll answer the question.

MITCH FIFIELD: Across the communications portfolio, and the Home Affairsportfolio, there is a concerted effort when it comes to child pornography. Wehave, within my portfolio, the powers to direct sites within Australia to takedown that material, to fine them if they don't. There is strong and close international relationships between lawenforcement agencies and eSafety Commissioners to work to bring material downin other jurisdictions which can be accessed within Australia. So, restassured, it's a full-court press. If there's more that we can do, thenabsolutely we will.

JULIE BISHOP: So you now have Peter Dutton, Julie Bishop,and Mitch Fifield in absolute agreement on this issue.

JOURNALIST: Just specifically, to the point you raise,the Australian Signals Directorate - which could target onshore servers - youdon't believe that would have the capacity to disrupt child pornographysharing?

JULIE BISHOP: The Australian Government is committed toensuring that criminals are not able to exploit, particularly, young peopleonline. As Senator Fifield just pointed out, the Home Affairs Department andthe Communications Department are unrelenting in ensuring that we keepAustralians safe, and we're doing great deal in that regard. There is no otherproposal before the Government. So we are focused on ensuring that all thetools we have available to us can be directed to appropriately safeguardingAustralians.

JOURNALIST: Just on the South China Sea, are youconcerned by China bolstering its firepower on an outpost?

JULIE BISHOP: There are reports to this extent, but I'm notgoing to comment on intelligence reporting. However, if the media reports areaccurate, then the Australian Government would be concerned, because this wouldbe contrary to China's stated aspiration that it would not militarise thesefeatures. China, of course, has a unique responsibility as a permanent memberof the United Nations Security Council, to uphold peace and security around theworld. Any action to militarise unilaterally features in the South China Seawould go against that responsibility and that role.

JOURNALIST: I have a question for you Steven, just aboutthe craft beer tax, if you can shed some light on that one for us?

STEVEN CIOBO: Well, terrific news with the announcement by the Treasurer that wewill look at providing additional tax excise relief for Australia's craftbrewers. That's particularly good news - well, it's just good news, full stop.It's particularly good news on theGold Coast, where we have, for example, Burleigh Brewing, and we also have Stone& Wood just over the border. Great news to ensure that, for all Aussies, weshould hopefully see the price of their favourite craft-brewed tipple, drop.

JOURNALIST: What's your favourite craft brew?

STEVEN CIOBO: I quite like Burleigh Brewing actually, the Yak one is prettygood.

JULIE BISHOP: Okay ladies and gentlemen, a great day forAustralian jobs with the Location Incentive program, and with removal of thetax on craft beers. A great day for Australian jobs!

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