Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pirates plunder Treasury

The announcement that the next instalment in the Pirates of the Caribbean series is to be filmed exclusively in Queensland has created much excitement. While locations will include Port Douglas and the Whitsundays it will mostly be based at the Village Roadshow studio on the Gold Coast.

The film was lured with the aid of $21.6 million from Canberra. However this is not 'new' money but was allocated by the previous Guvmint in 2013 for 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, which subsequently stalled. Disney have now been allowed to roll this over into the new adventure.

Despite the excitement there is good reason to query such subsidies for this type of film production. Gene Tunny has a good opinion post on this at The Drum: Taxpayer money wasted chasing film productions. Gene also has several posts at Queensland Economy Watch: Is it worth paying $10K each for temporary film industry jobs?; Government should resist subsidising Disney Nemo film – no long-term benefit to Qld; Drum opinion piece – Taxpayer money wasted chasing film productions
Paying over $10,000 each for temporary jobs on a film production doesn’t seem like a good use of public funds to me when there are so many better uses. Indeed, we’d probably be better off spending $10,000 on a training course for a long-term unemployed person. And if we’re going to subsidise the film industry, we should at least spend the money on films that actually contribute to Australian culture.
Update: Gene has posted again today Don’t we have better things to spend $22 million on than Pirates of the Caribbean 5?
We don’t really face a choice of having people employed on an international film production or having them unemployed – and if that really is the choice we should make sure they get some re-training for a more reliable job.

There appears to be some job inflation in the report today at the Cairns Post with previously postulated job numbers escalating from the initial 2,000 to 3,000 based on absolutely nothing at all. The official media statement vaguely refers to "thousands". Perhaps they need more extras for a pirate movie? I'm sure retrenched coal miners would make excellent pirate extras and require minimal retraining.

It is also noted in the report that it was "confirmed the Queensland Government has provided incentives including payroll tax exemptions to lure the production but would not reveal how much." There is no reference anywhere in the media statement to any contribution from the Queensland Guvmint.

Meanwhile both Joe Hockey and Tim Nicholls are seeking further cuts or asset sales to deal with their budget emergencies as the Age Of Entitlement is supposed to be over. I think we could have just found some entitlements they could easily have cut. Best summed up I think by Firstdogonthemoon:

 
 
Update: The Member for Cairns seems to have increased the job inflation bidding in his FB post. It is now "thousands of local jobs".
 
Update 2: Brisbane Times "set to create at least 1000 jobs".

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