Studio plan mixed up in election

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. subsidiary Fox Filmed Entertainment has found itself drawn into the New South Wales (NSW) state election March 25 amid claims it is considering pulling out of the tender for the Sydney Show-grounds film studio redevelopment in favor of moving the project to Melbourne.

Victorian Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett is known to have approached Murdoch last year offering a tender-free process and a range of financial incentives including the waiving of payroll tax. Fox is said to be threatening to take up the Melbourne offer if the NSW government insists on going through with the formal tendering process, but observers believe Fox is attempting to extract concessions from NSW.

“I do think they would have liked to short-circuit the process, but we do call the shots. We would like to incorporate the local industry; it is vital due process is adhered to,” a source in arts minister Peter Collins’ office told Variety, maintaining such a move was unlikely.

But opposition finance spokesperson Michael Egan maintains Sydney could easily lose the Fox studio.

“Jeff Kennett got on the phone as soon as (Labor) Prime Minister Paul Keating announced last year Fox was interested in the Showground site. (NSW Liberal Premier John) Fahey then thumbed his nose at Fox, which was bizarre since it is an industry proposal that could create directly and indirectly 10,000 jobs,” Egan told Variety.

“It is silly to call for tenders; we have one of the world’s biggest filmmakers offering to set up here. You should welcome them with open arms because you may not get a second chance,” Egan said.

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