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Issue #1520      28 September 2011

Open letter to the Minister for Arts

Save spaces for Aussie faces

The Hon Simon Crean MP, Minister for the Arts

Dear Minister Crean,

The government’s proposed changes to the Foreign Performer Certification Scheme Guidelines would allow Australian producers to bring in overseas performers on any and every screen production. These Guidelines would destroy the livelihood and careers of Australian performers and erode the uniqueness of Australian films.

Some of the proposed changes include:

  • Producers would be allowed to give more overseas actors lead roles in Australian productions;
  • TV series such as Home & Away, Neighbours, Packed to the Rafters and Underbelly could import whoever they like;
  • Productions receiving the new Australian taxpayer-funded Producer Offset would now be able to import overseas performers with no restrictions;
  • ABC and SBS programs like Angry Boys (which don’t receive any further subsidy) would be able to import performers at will.

The existing Guidelines have created career paths, and provided critical employment opportunities, for Australian performers for more than two decades. Many performers have been able to work internationally because of these opportunities and are now able to come back to Australia to work on local productions and assist in the development of a sustainable local screen industry.

These guidelines have resulted in world-renowned films such as The Castle, Muriel’s Wedding, Shine, Australia and Animal Kingdom.

We, the undersigned (more than 4,000 signatures), call on you to ensure Foreign Performer Certification Scheme Guidelines promote the employment of Australian performers on screen productions and protect Australia’s cultural identity. Any new Guidelines must ensure Australian productions provide leading roles for Australian performers – particularly on productions funded both directly and indirectly by Australian taxpayers and guaranteed by local content regulations.

Actor’s Equity www.aussiefaces.org.au  

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