While the Budget figures appear to show a significant drop in funding to Screen Australia from nearly $40 million in 2021-22 to just over $11 million by 2023-24, this figure reflects a return to previous levels of funding for the agency prior to the pandemic.

These Budget figures reflect the cessation of programs that were brought in, in part to smooth industry transition to proposed new arrangements the majority of which have never been fully implemented, as well as temporary pandemic measures.

A review of the funding support needed to maintain and enhance Screen Australia’s objectives is urgently required as well as a fulsome response to the policy settings needed to create valuable and sustainable investment into the sector.

We note the $4.0 million to establish the Australian Content Reporting and Investment Framework to support the provision of Australian content to Australian audiences, in relation to subscription video on demand (SVOD) services.

We previously welcomed the announcement of this scheme which supports a recognition that Australians should be able to see and hear their stories and culture on the services they are now using in record numbers. However, SPA also reiterates its position advocating for increased levels of Australian content from SVOD services and believes that the 5% proposal in the Morrison Government’s Streaming Services Discussion Paper will not deliver the growth or industry certainty needed to secure the future of Australia’s screen industry.

We welcome other measures that are sector non-specific including:

  • the Technology Investment Boost will enable small businesses with an annual turnover of less than $50 million to claim a bonus 20 per cent deduction for the cost of expenses and depreciating assets, up to $100,000 of expenditure per year with eligible expenditure including items such as portable payment devices, cyber security systems and subscriptions to cloud-based services;
  • $18.6 million over 3 years from 2022-23 to establish a pilot program to provide unique digital and data training and employment opportunities for regional Australians;

We acknowledge measures such as the second round of the Supporting Cinemas’ Retention Endurance and Enhancement of Neighbourhoods (SCREEN) Fund to support independent cinemas affected by COVID-19 and the extension of the Temporary Interruption Fund for a further 6 months to 30 June 2022 were already announced by the Minister in December 2021.

Our takeaway is that unless a number of reforms are made to the policies that support our sector, this will ultimately lead to the sector’s decline.