Will writers be better off after the senate inquiry?

5 April, 2019

Our industry feels like it’s in a constant state of flux as the media landscape continues to change, with added ferocity over the last two decades as screening models make the leap from free-to-air television to online streaming services. 

The Senate Inquiry into Australian Content and Broadcast, Radio and Streaming Services has sought to explore these changing times for the industry and come up with recommendations for its healthy future.
Since last year, the Senate Inquiry into Australian Content and Broadcast, Radio and Streaming Services has heard over forty submissions from various stakeholders in the industry, including the Australian Writers’ Guild.
The inquiry was chaired by Senator Sarah Hanson-Young (Greens, SA) with Senator Jonathon Duniam (LNP, Tas) acting as deputy chair. The rest of the panel included three ALP senators and one National Party senator.
Unsurprisingly, the inquiry found that Australian content is important to the national identity and Australians deserve to have their own stories told.
The Australian Greens have handed down their recommendations, which are very closely aligned to the AWG’s submission.
They include: 

  • The current quota system being preserved. 
  • Quotas for Streaming Videos and On Demand services (at least 10% of expenditure on local work, with a separate obligation to promote that content).
  • Examining other Terms of Trade provisions and implementing them. 
  • Introducing a single Producer Offset of 40%.
  • Ceasing recognising New Zealand content as Australian. 
  • Increasing the Location Offset to 30%
  • Decoupling the Location and Post, Digital and Visual Effects (PDV) Offset. 
  • Platform Neutral Location and ODV Offsets.  

The Australian Labor Party has stopped short of making any policy promises for the federal election as a result of the inquiry, but they’ve issued the following far more general recommendations:

  • The Australian Government must immediately release the Australian and Children’s Screen Content Review Report.
  • The Government commence public consultations ‘to break the current impasse’.
  • The implementation of a ‘new framework as soon as is practicable’. 

While the AWG supports these recommendations, both sides of Government have been making motherhood statements and conducting consultations for a decade. What the industry needs is action. With the federal election so close and no active commitment from the ALP, these recommendations are likely to remain in limbo. 
The Liberal National Party is yet to put forward their recommendations from the inquiry, much less issue an election promise reflecting on it.

View the Australian Writers' Guild's submission to the Senate Inquiry here.
View past Australian Writers' Guild submissions under Submissions & Advocacy here.  

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