Oz Govt. About To Step Into Actors-Producers Fight

The Australian government is set to intervene in the standoff between producers and Actors Equity over the ticklish issue of importing actors. Indications are that it will veer toward Equity’s position.

The ultimate threat that hangs is strike action by Actors Equity. That’s not a preferred option with the industry in a slump, but as federal secretary Michael Crosby has stated, Actors Equity’s mandate is to defend its members’ interests.

In late February, the Screen Prod. Assn. of Australia canceled an agreement with Actors Equity limiting the number of imports in films that use government funding.

Proposals from producers, Equity and the Dept. of Arts, Sport, Environment, Tourism & Territories were rejected.

It is now up to DASETT to stitch together recommendations for arts minister David Simmons. The producers org is relying on the Dept. of Immigration’s “net employment test” – which measures the local employment benefits that come from using an import to trigger production – to justify imports.

David Chalker, a spokesman for Simmons, says the test doesn’t go far enough to protect cultural interests, and that unless there’s a resolution over the next few weeks, Simmons will take action.

In the meantime, no importation limit is in place, but producers require Immigration Dept. approval, which involves consultating with Equity. An application under that scenario has yet to be lodged.

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