Monday, 13 August 2018
Tasmania: Cultural and Creative Industries
I would like to commend Senator Watt on that valiant effort to use his four minutes. Well done there. Look, it is a pleasure to rise on the adjournment tonight. I, like all other senators, have had the good fortune of spending six weeks away from this place during the winter recess and using that time to engage with the communities I represent and work for. Indeed, one of the things I was able to spend my time doing over the winter recess was getting to know Tasmania's arts and creative industries a bit better, something I have to confess I haven't had a great deal to do with. From the work I was able to do with them and the meetings and engagement I undertook, I was able to see the very impressive things that are going on in Tasmania in that sector.
Things have changed extensively in the 20 or 30 years since Warner Bros. promoted to the world the Tasmanian devil; that was the one representation of Tasmania when it came to our contribution to the creative sector. It is very different now, with festivals like the Festival of Voices, MONA FOMA, Ten days on the Island and the Cygnet Folk Festival, and galleries like the Museum of Old and New Art, MONA, down in Hobart, and a number of other offerings. Things have changed so much—not to mention the screen and broadcast creative industries and the growth in the number of production facilities and organisations that exist in Tasmania.
The cultural and creative sector in our state accounts for at least $216 million of the state's economy annually, which is about 1.7 per cent of gross state product, and it employs approximately two per cent of the employed population, which is a number that's grown about six per cent over the last five years. So, while it's not a large cohort of people employed in this sector, it is one that is growing and indeed one that is very important, particularly when it comes to employment opportunities for younger Tasmanians and for people looking to come to Tasmania from other parts of the country and the world to find employment.
The cultural sector and the creative industries are at the heart of support for many other sectors as well. I've spoken about them before in this place. The tourism and hospitality sectors are massive employers, massive economic contributors, particularly to our regions. The culture and creative sectors do a lot to attract visitors to our communities, to Hobart and to other regions right around the state. So the overall contribution is indeed much higher when you factor in what it does to support the growth in the hospitality and tourism sectors.
I alluded earlier to the recess from parliament that enables senators and members of the other place to get out into their communities. I took that time to engage with a number of organisations and see what's going on in Tasmania in the cultural and creative sector space. The most exciting part of that, of course, was visiting the set of Rosehaven, which is a great comedy produced by the ABC and filmed exclusively in Tasmania. It was great to head along to the beautiful town of Oatlands, in the Southern Midlands, on a very, very chilly day—I think it was about three degrees when we touched down in Oatlands—and catch up with the two main characters from the show—the Logie-nominated actor Celia Pacquola and of course Tasmania's own Luke McGregor—and catch a bit of the action, see what they were up to there.
Having viewed a number of the episodes of the two seasons so far—they're now filming season 3—it was great to see how they promote our state and the quirky nature of it. It is a great promotion of our state. It was great to be with the cast and crew and their producer, who made me feel very welcome on set. They employed 35 full-time Tasmanian practitioners, and also provided a great deal of full-time training for a number of crew positions, which is a great thing for our small-screen industry in Tasmania. They try to use a local workforce where possible—everything from extras to all elements of the crew, which is a great thing, particularly when the industry isn't like it may be in places like Melbourne or Sydney.
It's great to note that the national broadcaster's investment in production in Tasmania has more than doubled since 2014-15, and of course Rosehaven, being a significant production, accounts for a fair chunk of that. As I previously suggested, the exposure programs like Rosehaven, which are watched around the world, give to our state something we can't underestimate. In addition to the on-ground direct experience, the employment provided, the economic activity and the exposure these programs generate for our state are great things. I thank the cast and crew of Rosehaven for interacting so well with the locals in communities right across Tasmania, but also for the wonderful way in which they portray our state.
Additionally, I was able to catch up with the team at Blue Rocket Studios, an animation studio based out of Hobart. They've recently been awarded a Logie for their production of children's television animation. The Logie they were awarded was for Most Outstanding Children's Program for their 13-part TV series known as Little J and Big Cuz. It's the first Indigenous children's animation and it was produced in English and a number of Aboriginal languages. They're currently producing the second season. It was great to get into their studios and see how they do what they do and see some of the other projects they are working on. I'm sure we will hear about those into the future. Noting the success they've had with Little J and Big Cuz, I'm sure they'll do well with their other productions as well. The director at Blue Rocket Productions, David Gurney, is a very strong and passionate advocate for the Tasmanian screen sector. He saw a great deal of potential in our state being able to contribute in a larger way to the screen industry and to animation, but also to a number of other areas. That's something I'm looking forward to working on: assisting Blue Rocket and other participants in the industry to ensure we can grow this sector in Tasmania. I heard stories about how many people showed interest in moving to Tasmania just to participate in the work of Blue Rocket as opposed to other parts of the country, such as Sydney or Melbourne. It was fascinating to see that we may have a competitive edge over some of the other parts of the country when it comes to attracting people to participate in this part of the creative industries.
I also caught up with the team at Wide Angle Tasmania, which is a not-for-profit organisation supporting grassroots participation in the screen industry. I saw their plans for the future and how they intend to support those who want to make a go of things in the screen industry in our state, where we don't have the opportunities and the avenues that perhaps Victoria, New South Wales and maybe even Queensland have. This organisation has run off the smell of an oily rag for some time but does a great job in supporting those who actually do want to make a go of things in Tasmania by creating connections and providing them with opportunities that they may not have otherwise had. They provide equipment to people who are working on small projects themselves. That's part of their revenue stream. The work that they do in supporting the creative industries sector in Tasmania is something I feel very optimistic about. It gives us a great foundation with regard to the future of this industry. While we're seeing things like Rosehaven, Little J and Big Cuz, the work of Blue Rocket Productions and the work of Wide Angle Tasmania, I think we have a bright future in the creative industries sector and the cultural sector as well. It is a growing industry, as I've already said, and it's one I look forward to working with, along with my Tasmanian Liberal Senate colleagues, to grow into the future as part of our wonderful and growing economy in Tasmania.