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22 November 2021

Senator Rex Patrick has slammed the Morrison Government for failing to properly support Australia's independent cinemas throughout the COVID-19 crisis while allowing profitable businesses to pocket billions in JobKeeper that they did not need.

“Many South Australians will be saddened by today’s news that Adelaide’s only drive-in cinemas is closing due to COVID-19” Senator Patrick said.

“What’s even sadder is this could have been avoided if the Government had paid out the financial support it had already promised to our independent cinemas.”

“I’ve been urging Ministers Paul Fletcher and Simon Birmingham to support our independent cinemas as they make it through the likely last hurdle of the COVID-19 crisis.”

“Less than two weeks ago, I wrote to the Communications Minister and the Finance Minister urging them to release $10.2 million of unspent money from the Screen Fund to support our independent cinemas in a final moment of need.”

“The Government must explain why the money they promised has not made its way to our independent cinemas. Once again it seems we have a Government preoccupied with announcements, but not the implementation.”

“The majority of South Australia’s cinemas are independent cinemas, many of them small and family businesses, and they needed some additional support while NSW and Victoria were in lockdown and no blockbusters were being released.”

Prior to the pandemic, independent cinemas hosted more than 27 million visitors nationwide and contributed some $250 million to our economy every year, more than $110 million straight into regional Australia. 

“Wallis Cinema are shutting down SA's iconic Gepps Cross Mainline Drive-in and there are others likely to follow."

"It's plain stupidity to support cinemas all the way through COVID-19 only to let them fall over at the end."

A copy of Senator Patrick's 11 November letter to Ministers Fletcher and Birmingham can be found here.