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Image for Pros & Cons: What The Federal Budget Means For Australian MusicImage: Sydney Festival / Facebook

Pros & Cons: What The Federal Budget Means For Australian Music

Written by Music Feeds on May 13, 2015

The 2015 Federal Budget was revealed in full last night, and those who actually tuned in for the “dull and routine” affair, heard Treasurer Joe Hockey wax lyrical about the Government’s focus on families, small business and national security. But what about Australia’s musicians and artists?

We’ve got your back guys, and as such we’ve gone ahead and analysed the pros and cons of the 2015 Federal Budget, and what it all means for music in Australia.

How about we kick off with the bad news?


Public & Community Radio Lose Out

As Radio Today reports, community and publicly-funded Australian radio stations will feel the brunt of budget cuts.

The federal government has cut its support for the community radio sector by half a million dollars, bringing funding down to $16.8 million from $17.3 million.

The Community Broadcasting Association of Australia (CBAA) say the the funding freeze “ultimately represents an incremental withdrawal of Government support”.

“The Government risks the slow demise of some in our sector, which contributes so much to the cultural life of Australia,” said the CBAA in a rather frosty statement today. “Community stations, particularly the two thirds of community radio stations that operate in regional and remote areas, cannot absorb the pause forever and, over time, this will see services lost.”

Public broadcaster ABC has had its funding cut from $1.113 billion to $1.084 billion, while SBS has been cut from $285 million to $283 million. The cuts may affect both broadcaster’s radio services, with ABC already bracing for more layoffs.

“The Netflix Tax” Extends GST To Digital Downloads

“The Netflix Tax” has been in the pipeline since early April, but has now become a reality. Essentially, the government is extending the 10 per cent Goods & Services Tax to digital products, including music.

This means Aussie music lovers will soon pay an extra 10 per cent for streaming services and digital products which don’t already apply the GST. Prices on Apple’s iTunes and Google’s Play Store already take the GST into account though, so, you know, there’s a silver lining there.

The upside to the “Netflix Tax” is that it will likely make Australian suppliers of digital content more competitive, but most consumers are likely to see it as a negative, especially when Australians often already pay premiums for digital content.

As Gizmodo reports, digital products and services will be taxed from 1st July 2017, assuming the legislation is passed. From July 2017 to 2019, the tax is predicted to net $350 million.

A Con wrapped up as a pro – Depends who you ask.

Establishment Of National Programme for Excellence in the Arts

As Fairfax Media reports, Attorney-General George Brandis has announced that the government will establish a National Programme for Excellence in the Arts by conveniently taking $104.8 million from the Australia Council – Australia’s main arts grant body – over four years.

The new national program will reportedly “deliver on a number of government priorities including providing national access to quality arts and cultural experiences”, and will support “endowments, international touring and strategic projects”.

While the Attorney-General is pitching the move as a national approach to arts funding, it’s unclear how the changes will affect Aussie musicians. Details of how the program will operate are yet to be revealed, but according to Brandis, it “will make funding available to a wider range of arts companies and arts practitioners, while at the same time respecting the preferences and tastes of Australia’s audiences.”

The initiative has already come under fire from some, who are billing it as a control grab by the Federal Government over the nation’s arts sector, and a move which undermines the independent and arms-length funding processes of the Australia Council.

Australian Theatre for Young People artistic director Fraser Corfield told Fairfax he feared the changes would advantage bigger, more corporate arts organisations and companies at the expense of smaller ones.

Others, like Opera Australia CEO Craig Hassall, have said it’s too early to criticise the new program run by the Attorney General, adding that “an engaged minister [is] a positive thing – it’s ultimately a good thing for everyone in the arts.”

The Australia Council has also been stripped of responsibility for Visions of Australia, Festivals Australia and the Major Festivals Initiative.


Funding For Major Festivals Initiative Doubles

As ABC reports, while the aforementioned Major Festival Initiative — currently an Australia Council funding body — will be transferred to the Ministry for the Arts, Brandis has announced that its funding will be doubled to $1.5 million.

The Major Festival Initiative supports the commissioning, development and showcasing of new Australian performing arts in festivals such as Sydney Festival, Adelaide Festival, Brisbane Festival, Darwin Festival, Melbourne Festival and Perth International Arts Festival.

Musos often play at these events, so extra funding means there could be a few more performance slots to go around. Though it is still unclear how these new funds will be utilised or, say, if they will be directed towards fostering homegrown talent.

Treasurer Joe Hockey Is Not In Charge Of Australia’s Music Program

We hope. Because remember this?

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