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Actress Cate Blanchett leads campaign to protect Australian screen industry from projected budget cuts

Xinhua,March 27, 2018 Adjust font size:

CANBERRA, March 27 (Xinhua) -- High-profile Hollywood actress Cate Blanchett has led a campaign to protect Australia's film and television industry from proposed government budget cuts.

Melbourne-born Blanchett joined other Australian actors including Rose Byrne and Richard Roxburgh, and directors such as Gillian Armstrong and Peter Weir, in signing an open letter to the government, appealing for help in preserving opportunities for local film and TV creators.

Tuesday's open letter was delivered to the federal government during the final parliamentary sitting week before the budget is handed down in May.

Also signed by other eminent figures in the entertainment industry including Ben Elton, Yael Stone, Fred Schepisi, Kate Mulvany, David Williamson and Deborah Mailman, the letter read: "our ability to keep telling Australian stories on screen is at risk, and if our nation's stories aren't told, they die."

The letter is the latest move from the "Make it Australian" campaign, an alliance of the Australian Directors' Guild, the Australian Writers' Guild, the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance and Screen Producers Australia.

Australian "free-to-air" commercial TV networks Seven, Nine and Ten, have called for local content quotas to be relaxed and for children's content quota to be removed all together, because it is so expensive to produce local programs.

But the "Make it Australian" letter suggests that more than 40 percent of drama hours, 125 million Australian dollars (96.7 million U.S. dollars) in budgets, and 3,500 jobs would have been lost if the reduced quota proposal had been in place since 2016.

The alliance, which has been lobbying Arts Minister Mitch Fifield since September 2017, is moving to increase tax incentives that could lure more international productions to Australia.

It calls on the government to maintain Australian content rules for free-to-air TV and extend them to new media to create more jobs; and to put a hold on funding cuts to Screen Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Company and Special Broadcasting Services.

Australia currently has a 16.5 percent tax offset for international film productions, compared with 25 percent in New Zealand. "Make it Australian" is calling for that offset to be increased to 30 percent. Enditem