Thursday, 18 March 2021
Questions without Notice
COVID-19: Arts and Entertainment Industry
I thank Senator Patrick for his question and for his interest in an important part of the Australian economy and an important part of the small business and medium business community across Australia. As everybody in this chamber appreciates, many Australians and many Australian businesses have experienced significant challenges in the past 12 months, and the cinema sector, in particular, has been one of those.
We are acutely aware of the fact that independent cinemas make up approximately 30 per cent of the cinema exhibition sector in Australia, and that they have been particularly impacted by COVID-19—especially, as you said Senator Patrick, by the absence of the usual blockbusters flowing through to them to help attract crowds back in, even as some of those restrictions have been lifted. It's hard to disaggregate the elements of support provided, but across the arts and entertainment sector some $730 million in assistance has been provided via JobKeeper. As the Senate is well aware, other payments have been made to small and medium-sized businesses. Other measures such as the loss carry back provisions will provide assistance to many cinemas as well.
We continue to work closely with all industry sectors to understand the particular circumstances that they find themselves in. We have acted in relation to travel agents, for example, by providing more than a quarter of a billion dollars of support there for a sector that was essentially shut down. We will keep our approach using the targeted, proportionate way we've indicated, and we will certainly continue to listen carefully to the independent cinema sector and to work with them over the weeks and months ahead.