TRANSCRIPT - Joint Press Conference with the Minister for Foreign Affairs
Parliament House, Canberra
22 October 2015
E & OE
Australia secures two
Good afternoon everybody and
thank you for joining us.
I am delighted to be here this
afternoon with my colleague Senator Mitch Fifield, the Minister for
Communication and the Arts, and my two ministerial colleagues, Steve Ciobo and
Stuart Roberts. We are here to announce that the Australian Government has
secured two large-budget international film productions to be produced in
Australia from next year. Marvel Studios' Thor: Ragnarok, starring
Australia's very own Chris Hemsworth, will continue the superhero adventures,
but being filmed here in Australia. And I want to welcome Mary Anne Hughes,
Vice-President representing Walt Disney Company and Marvel Studios and her
support staff, who have come all the way from Los Angeles for this
announcement. Secondly 20th Century Fox will bring Sir Ridley Scott to
Australia to direct his next Alien film, yet to be titled.
The Australian Government
believes that our prosperity and economic growth as a nation depends very much
on seizing new opportunities, and as Prime Minister Turnbull has stated, the
Government must be flexible, we must be responsive to opportunities that
provide investment into Australia and promote economic growth, jobs and further
During recent visits to both
Los Angeles and New York I met with senior executives of major film and
production houses - with Walt Disney Company, Marvel, 20th Century Fox, Warner
Brothers, Village Roadshow, NBC Universal, and directors Ridley Scott and Brett
Ratner, who all expressed a very keen desire to invest in significant new film
production projects right here a Australia. And they specifically spoke about
the value in Australia as a filming destination, the quality and variety of our
locations, but more importantly our highly qualified and talented workforce,
our embrace of innovative technology, our stable economy, our dollar - all this
makes Australia an attractive destination.
Many Australians are employed
directly by Australia's creative industries, and attracting major films made
here will be a significant boost for our economy, for our industrial base, and
for linking Australia in innumerable ways to our ever-globalising world. We do
have a culture of innovation, resourcefulness, and ingenuity. We are a top 20
country, we're the 12th largest economy in the world, the fifth largest on a
per capita basis. Earlier this year, the Martin Institute of Global Creativity
at the University of Toronto, judged Australia to be the most creative nation
on earth, and that was due to the Australian people, our imagination, our
flair, our highly educated, highly motivated workforce, and we are
entrepreneurs and risk-takers.
In terms of these major
productions, there is also a significant spin-off for tourism, there is a real
benefit there. Film tourism is an increasing drawcard for overseas visitors.
And coincidentally this week is Ausfilm Week in Los Angeles, and it's a week
dedicated to attracting US productions to Australia. I know many people will be
very excited about our announcement today. The opportunity will also ensure
Australia can have a long-term relationship with major film and production
houses like Marvel, Walt Disney, and 20th Century Fox.
From my point of view, it also
strengthens our relationship with the US, one of the most creative economies in
the world. Already it is Australia's number one source of investment, our
largest investment partner, and it is a source of finance and human capital for
many film blockbusters.
Now, I know the actual
locations are yet to be announced by the production houses, but I particularly
wanted to thank my ministerial colleagues, Steve Ciobo, Stu Robert, and Karen
Andrews, because they have been fierce advocates for more film production and
post-production opportunities for the Gold Coast, and after Disney's positive
experience with the Pirates of the Caribbean, I'm sure that the film
houses would be warmly welcomed back for Thor and others.
And Sir Ridley Scott told me he
knows the Fox Studios very well, and knows NSW well, so we're hoping for some
good news there.
Now I will hand over to my
colleague, Minister Mitch Fifield for the details of this exciting
Thank you so much, Julie, and
can I acknowledge the role that you have played. Julie is a ceaseless advocate
for Australia, for Australian industry and talents overseas, and she also
always seeks to bring propositions back to Australia and join those together.
So Julie, thank you so much for your important role in this.
Can I also acknowledge my
colleagues Steve Ciobo and Stuart Robert, also Karen Andrews, John Alexander,
and Arthur Sinodinos, who are great sources of advice in relation to
Australia's creative and cultural industries.
But I should also make a particular acknowledgement of the Prime Minister. The
Prime Minister has taken a minute-by-minute interest in this venture. He was
determined to see that this would be landed. And I think the announcement that
we are making today is a concrete example of what the Prime Minister means when
he talks about the agility of government and the agility of industry to support
innovation and to deliver jobs. And that is a very big part of what today is
about. Jobs and employment.
It's also the first step in a
creative policy that will unlock new jobs in the important creative and
cultural industry. And it's important to recognise that the cultural and
creative components of our economy already contribute in excess of $90 billion a
year to GDP. Today's announcement obviously recognises the skills and talent of
our local production sector, that they are able to offer to the world. It will
help build a strong sector, and a stronger sector means a greater capacity to
tell Australian stories. And I think to sum it up, today is really about
competitiveness, it's about skills, and it's about jobs. And we do mention
government helping secure these feature films, but it is important to recognise
that it's government with the industry, with the skill and talent and ability
of this industry together that has secured these films. We are obviously just
so thrilled that Chris Hemsworth, a good mate of the Foreign Minister, will
continue the super ...
…She likes to think so [laughs].
That's right. That the
superhero adventure will continue. And I should make clear that's Chris
Hemsworth continuing the superhero adventure, not Julie. And Sir Ridley who has
been so keen to produce a film in Australia. I should indicate at this point
that I am going to breach Cabinet confidence. I think you would be aware
obviously of Prometheus, which was the previous film in this Alien series. When
I was briefing Cabinet on this proposition I had to declare a conflict of interest,
that in the first Prometheus movie there is a character called Fifield. And
Christopher Pyne kindly, across the Cabinet table, said: “yes, but he died.”
So anyway for the moment I'm
still standing and on my feet. But what really is giving us the opportunity to
secure these films is $47.25 million, which will help combine with the skill,
talent, and resources of these production houses to secure these films. And
what this means in numbers is over $300 million of investment in Australia that
would otherwise be invested elsewhere. What it means is 3,000 direct jobs for
Australians. And it also isn't just the ability for us to highlight Australia
as a place to film and do business, it also presents the opportunity for us to
showcase Australia, to let people know that this is a terrific place - not only
to do work, but to visit. So it's important for tourism as well.
And just to give you a few more
numbers, because I think they are important, to emphasise that this is about
jobs. Every job created in the film and television industry supports 3.57 jobs
in other industries. Every dollar of turnover creates turnover of $3.52 in
other industries. And an amount equal to 13-20 per cent of spend comes back to
the Australian Government in taxation, and a further 3 per cent goes to state
governments in the form of taxation. Other important benefits of this
arrangement are the fact that this helps develop skills, skills that you
couldn't develop on smaller budget productions, the opportunity for suppliers
to purchase equipment which they will be able to use for other productions. The
opportunity for new equipment to be developed - one production recently was
able to create a new drone that could carry heavy cameras. So there are many,
I'm extremely proud, I think
Julie, Steven, and Stuart are extremely proud of the creative talent that we
have in Australia, of the skills that we have in our production industry. And I
know that the two ventures will be extremely pleased with the people that they
will have the opportunity to work with. And it now gives me great pleasure to
call upon Mary Ann Hughes, who is the Vice President of Film and Television
Production Planning at the Walt Disney Company.
Well thank you so much. On
behalf of the Walt Disney Company and Marvel Studios, we would like to thank
the Australian Federal Government. In particular we would like to thank Foreign
Minister Julie Bishop, and Minister for the Arts Fifield.
And of course we would like to
thank your Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, for their strong leadership, for
their forward-thinking vision of growing the creative sector here in Australia,
and in particular for growing the film and television industry. We are thrilled
that- to be here today to announce that Marvel will be filming Thor:
Ragnarok beginning next year. We had such a wonderful experience in filming
Pirates of the Caribbean here in Australia earlier this year, and it is
a very complicated movie that we ventured into. But we had the good fortune of
employing 2625 highly-skilled and technologically-advanced individuals in the
business- in the film sector. And we look forward to that continuation of
direct hires for Thor. We also engaged 6278 Australian vendors from all
over the country, providing their expert goods and services that support our
industry. So again, we look forward to repeating that over and over again.
Chris Hemsworth of course would
have loved to have been here today to thank all of you personally, but
unfortunately he had to be in Los Angeles for business meetings. But I am sure
that with filming Thor here in Australia, those trips back to LA will be
few and far between. So I'm sure that you would rather hear from Chris rather
than myself, so perhaps we could hear from Australia's Chris Hemsworth, Thor.
Wanted to say a huge thank you
to the Federal Government, particularly the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, and
Minister for the Arts Mitch Fifield for making it possible for Thor:
Ragnarok to shoot here in Australia. I'm incredibly excited to be coming
back home for work, and here with our extremely talented production industry,
which I think is one of the best in the world. It's fantastic to see the
Government and the Prime Minister supporting our creative industries, and I
look forward to introducing my Marvel friends to this beautiful country of
[End of excerpt]
And I'll now call on Marc
Wooldridge, Managing Director of 20th Century Fox Australia.
Ladies and gentlemen, it's an
absolute pleasure to be here today representing both 20th Century Fox and Sir
Ridley Scott. I do wish to extend my great gratitude to both Minister Bishop
and Minister Fifield and their teams for incredible commitment and cooperation
in bring such a prestigious and ambitious project to Australia. The latest
instalment of the Alien franchise brings Ridley back to the saga that he
started back in 1979 with the original Alien movie, and his sense of ambition
for this movie is typical Ridley; it's immense, it's huge, and we couldn't be
more excited about that.
Ridley is regarded as one of
the greatest film-makers of all time. His career spans 40 years, including some
of the most seminal movies of all time, including Blade Runner, Gladiator,
and Thelma & Louise, and most recently The Martian, which I'm
very happy to report is being released by 20th Century Fox right now and is the
number one movie in the country for the third weekend in a row. And as much as
Ridley would have liked to have been here today he is on the promotional trail
at the moment promoting The Martian, which is soon to be released in
China, a market we have great expectations for. But he has recorded a message
from a lovely part of the world before he got on his plane heading out to
China. So I'll hand you over to Ridley, thank you.
Hi there, Ridley Scott here.
I'm actually in Provence right now, sitting in a vineyard. Just an informal
thank you for your support that I just heard of this morning, particularly
Mitch Fifield, Minister of Arts, Julie Bishop, Foreign Affairs, and Malcolm Turnbull.
I've worked with Australian talent before, Russel Crowe many times, Cate
Blanchett, a wonderful once, I'd like to work with her again of course. So I'm
looking forward to working with your talent, your camera crews and your
designers down in Australia, because I understand they're all absolutely
brilliant. Oh yeah, there was one other thing, I understand that your
Australian wine is pretty damn good so I'm looking forward to that.
Thank you again, and bye-bye.
Okay. Any questions?
With the $47 million, is it a
subsidy or is it an investment? Do we get our money back if the films make
money, or is it a direct investment? And secondly, why give $47 million to the
film industry and not $47 million to the car industry, or BlueScope Steel, or-
can you just explain your rationale?
Sure. Effectively what we're
doing through a grant for these two productions is in effect increasing the
16.5 per cent location offset to 30 per cent. So this is the mechanism to have
the equivalent effect. This is something that has been done on a number of
occasions by successive governments when there's a good proposition, when
there's a proposition which will see Australian jobs created, that will see
Australian skills and talent developed.
It also ensures that we are
competitive against other destinations, and we know that if these two films
were not secured for Australia that there were other countries about to embrace
them. So, it is very much part of our international competitiveness and driving
new industries, new technologies, new innovation, and above all providing
significant jobs in our creative economy.
Who was Australia competing
against? Which other countries were highly competitive?
Well for example The Martian
is a film that we would very much liked to have secured here, and I believe
that that was then filmed in Hungary. So we are competing against other
countries. The location offset is a key component of that, and Australia must
Canada is another country, and
the various provincial jurisdictions will provide offsets of 20-56 per cent.
The Canadian Federal Government will also provide an additional 15 per cent
offset for co-productions. So, this is a very competitive environment.
Can I ask, you said that Mr
Turnbull was- took a minute-by-minute interest in the negotiations, can you
expand on that a little bit? And also, I was wondering if I could ask Ms Hughes
whether Australia's quarantine laws …
… have any impact given the Boo
and Pistol saga?
Clearly they didn't because
That's right. Well the Prime
Minister takes a very keen interest in the Australian creative industries and
cultural industries, but during the time that he has been the Prime Minister
and I've been the Minister for Communications and the Arts, I have found that
he is in often hourly, sometimes minute-by-minute contact. Because he is just
absolutely seized of a determination to make sure that we make every single day
count in Government.
And the quarantine laws?
Well, since our lovely Chris
Hemsworth lives in Australia I suspect don't have any issues with pets.
Minister Bishop, why won’t you
agree to a Parliamentary debate on Syria and Australia’s role in the Middle
The Australian Government’s
policy in relation to this is very clear. We are committed to a mission with
the coalition led by the United States. Our mission is to support the Iraqi
security forces, build their capacity and capability to ensure that they are in
a position to take back territory that has been claimed by the terrorist
organisation Daesh, and that they are in a position to protect the Iraqi
citizens. We are in Iraq at the invitation of and with the consent of the Iraqi
In relation to Syria we are
taking part in airstrikes against Daesh targets that are being used to launch
attacks on Iraq, and therefore it’s under Article 51 of the UN Charter, the
collective right for the self-defence of Iraq. So our mission is defined, it is
clear, we’ve had many discussions about this, the Opposition has been briefed,
and we will continue to ensure that foreign terrorist fighters from Australia
are deterred from going over to the Middle East and taking part in the
conflict. We warn Australians not to take part in this conflict, because not
only are they putting their own lives in mortal danger they are adding to the
suffering and violence being meted out to the people of Syria and Iraq.
So our mission and position is
very clear, and we keep the Australian people informed about them.
Minister, what’s Australia’s
response to Canada’s decision to withdraw air strikes? Will Australia have to
pick up the slack by increasing the number of air strikes we are partaking in?
Well we understand that the new
Canadian Government intends to maintain a level of support similar to ours
other than in relation to air strikes. And that’s of course a decision for the
new government. We have not been asked to do anymore in that regard. If we
were, we would consider it and put in the context of our capacity, capability
and national interest.
Minister, as the Deputy Liberal
Leader do you think the Government should be prepared to consider the marriage
equality plebiscite legislation before the next election, and could it be done
in a way that allows for marriage equality to be legalised, pending a
successful plebiscite after the next election?
Well, as Deputy Leader of the
Liberal Party I wouldn’t pre-empt any Cabinet discussion on this topic.
Minister Bishop, Senate
Estimates spent about 15 minutes today examining your use of a red angry-faced
emoji to describe Vladimir Putin. Could you explain what you meant by the use
of that emoji?
Well look it’s interesting that
the Labor Senators spent more time focusing on my use of emoji than it spent
asking questions of the Department about foreign terrorist fighters and our
fight against Daesh. I think that tells you something about the mindset of the
Twitter is clearly a medium
used for short, pithy statements. It’s not used for serious foreign policy
debate, nor do I use it for that. We make announcements on Twitter, but it’s
limited to 140 characters. Emojis are a well-known, contemporary way of expressing
particular views, and I am surprised that so few of the Labor Senators seem to
understand the context in which Twitter and emojis are used. In the case of
President Putin, he self-describes as a hard man. In fact having met President
Putin I think he’d be delighted with the application of emoji that I used to
I note Senator Brandis has
suggested it was ideological. That could be the case. It might be a multi-use
emoji, I think that’s possible.
Okay, any other questions?
Foreign Minister do you think
that- we’ve asked a couple of times now about the incident that happened a
couple of years ago where a SAS trooper held a gun to an Australian agent in a
bar in Afghanistan. We’re told that the reason you won’t discuss that is
national security. Isn’t the Government hiding behind national security on
what’s a very serious issue, and were there any consequences for the soldier?
Chris as you know we do not
discuss intelligence and security issues, we do have oversight through the
Inspector-General of Intelligence (IGIS) and all allegations, all accusations,
all incidents, are thoroughly investigated. And I’m satisfied that that
occurred in this case, but we do not go into the details of intelligence and
security matters for very good reason.
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