Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.
Unveiling the government’s National Cultural Policy on Wednesday, Oz arts minister Simon Crean disappointed the industry with the news that Australia will not be raising its location rebate from 16.5% to 30% for foreign films wanting to shoot locally. However, he did announce one measure which was unexpected: new funding of $A20M ($20.6M), which will be used to attract productions to Australia. Crean said the new money is separate from ongoing negotiations with the Disney to persuade the studio to shoot David Fincher’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea: Captain Nemo Down Under. Last month, Crean said the government would give Disney $12.2M as a one-off payment that would boost its rebate to 30%. Disney has signaled it needs the support of the Queensland and New South Wales governments before committing to shoot in Oz. Last year the government gave Fox $12.8M to secure The Wolverine for Sydney’s Fox Studios. Crean said the $20M in new funding is a precursor to raising the location rebate “should the (local) dollar remain high” but did not specify when that would happen, evidently because he hasn’t yet secured the approval of the Treasury. Locations marketing agency Ausfilm has been lobbying the government to hike the rebate to 30% permanently to offset the Oz dollar versus the greenback and to be competitive with other destinations. Crean pledged the government would spend $10M over four years to support the production of Australian content on digital platforms, boosting Screen Australia’s multi-platform programs. All told, the government committed to raise its investment in supporting the creative arts by $235M over four years. Screen producers were miffed that Crean ignored a proposal from the government’s convergence review to double to 40% the producer offset for Australian TV drama, in line with that for local feature films.