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16 March 2021

Independent Senator Rex Patrick today called on the Federal Government to make an immediate commitment to provide financial support to Australia’s independent cinemas after the termination of the JobKeeper program.

“41 of South Australia’s 51 cinemas are independent cinemas, many of them small and family businesses, and they need ongoing support if they are to make it through the COVID19 economic crisis,” Senator Patrick said.

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. 

Over the past year box office takings have been down 70%. With ongoing capacity restrictions and extended delays with new releases, recovery is still a long way off.

“With the JobKeeper program coming to an end in just two weeks, these businesses need ongoing Federal Government assistance so that SA communities keep their valued cinemas.”

“Over half of Australia’s independent cinemas are at risk of closing permanently without further Government support."

“If independent cinemas close, there will be far fewer cinemas screening Australian films. Over 50% of the box office takings for Australian films comes from screenings by independent cinemas that provides critical support for our feature film industry."

“Our independent cinemas are a vital part of Australian culture and society. They also bring business to cafes, pubs and restaurants in our towns and shopping centres and employ many thousands of Australians."

“I strongly support the detailed proposals submitted to the Government by Independent Cinemas Australia for grants to ensure these businesses survive COVID19."

“Investing some $87 million in grants for these Australian businesses will ensure independent cinemas are available to screen the blockbuster Hollywood movies currently being filmed in Australia thanks to the Government’s $400 million investment to attract offshore filmmakers."

“The benefits for the individual businesses, employees and local communities would well and truly outweigh the expenditure involved.” 

“Unfortunately, with just two weeks of JobKeeper left the Government has failed to make a commitment that would provide our independent cinemas with certainty that they will have further financial support.” 

“The Government’s recent expansion of the loan program to help severely affected small businesses is not much help for enterprises such as independent cinemas. The loans are not interest free and these businesses are poorly positioned to take on more debt after 12 months of trading at an average of 30% of 2019 revenue.”

“A failure by the Federal Government to provide immediate support will deal a devastating blow not only to Australia’s independent cinemas, but also the many thousands of Australian employed by the industry, future Australian film production, as well as local communities across South Australia and regional Australia more broadly.” 

“This must not happen.”