The Australian Writers’ Guild visited Canberra last week to urge federal politicians from all parties to support the Make it Australian campaign. The delegation was the latest effort as part of the larger campaign being prosecuted by the Australian Screen Industry Group (ASIG), a joint initiative headed by MEAA, SPA, ADG and AWG which comes together to take a united stance on issues affecting the screen industry. Full Members Ellie Beaumont and Andrew Knight, accompanied by General Manager Emma Rafferty, represented writers in the industry-wide delegation.
The delegation first attended an afternoon tea with the Labor caucus in Parliament House hosted by Labor MP Tony Burke. An informal panel where the caucus heard from actor Deborah Mailman, director Gillian Armstrong, production designer and art director Fiona Donovan and AWG’s very own Ellie Beaumont was followed by an informal meet and greet where practitioners spoke one-on-one to Labor politicians about the importance of Australian stories, our screen industry and what they can do to ensure its survival.
‘The arrival of streaming services will either be a huge opportunity for Australian writers and productions, or a threat. It was great to be able to make a powerful case to government to introduce local content quotas for streaming services and to preserve existing quotas for broadcasters so we can continue to create our own Australian stories,’ said Ellie Beaumont about the opportunity to take the fight directly to the decision-makers.The main event was a cocktail party in the Mural Room hosted by the Parliamentary Friends of the Screen Industry.
Attended by well over 100 guests from the full spectrum of politics, the event featured an impressive Q&A panel featuring actors Judy Davis and Richard Roxburgh, director Phillip Noyce, producer Jo Porter and prolific screenwriter Andrew Knight, emceed by SPA CEO Matthew Deaner.‘I know audiences want to hear Australian stories,’ Andrew Knight said, ‘I know they want to hear the Australian patois and the way we think and the way we talk and it's never been under greater siege than it is at the moment.’ Check out the panel discussion on SPA’s Facebook page here.
The final event was a Screen Stories Long Table Dinner, hosted by SPA and attended by politicians and screen industry professionals. Welcomed guests included Julie Bishop MP and Minister of the Arts Senator Mitch Fifield, who both addressed the gathering, speaking favourably and encouragingly about the cultural and economic value of the Australian screen industry and the Make it Australian campaign’s messages.The delegation garnered some media coverage, which can be read here:
The day following the delegation, Labor MP Anthony Albanese spoke about the campaign in Parliament, voicing his support of it and urging the government to ‘recognise the need to support that sector’.AWG extends its thanks to all members who have been involved in the Make it Australian campaign so far, especially to Andrew Knight and Ellie Beaumont for generously giving their time to the campaign last week.