Thursday 16 June 2005

Mr FINCH Rosevears) - Is it not interesting, Mr President, how budget Estimates questions can lead on to bigger things? On the Tuesday of the Estimates week - it was 31 May - I asked the minister for Economic Development, Employment and the Arts about Tasmania's potential for training and the development of television, film and multimedia. That was not the first time that I had brought up that idea and I again detailed Tasmania's obvious advantages in this field and asked if the Government had given much thought to creating a centre of excellence.
I would dearly love to have that centre established in my electorate of Rosevears on the West Tamar but it is obvious that Launceston's Inveresk is the most suitable northern venue because it already has complementary facilities and is not too far from Launceston's TAFE.

Mr Harriss - What have you been drinking?

Mr FINCH - What was that?

Mr Harriss - What have you been drinking?

Mr Aird - Whatever it was, I wish he had stopped earlier. I bet you he does too.
Mr FINCH - The ears of the CEO of TAFE, John Smyth, were perceptively open to my questioning and we heard recently that Launceston's TAFE has demonstrated that it can contribute security and expertise to specialist training enterprises like the School of Fine Furniture, which is foundering, or has been, and indeed the concept of this multimedia and film school.

What I like about budget Estimates, Mr President, is that most ministers and their departments are receptive and they are quick to latch on to new ideas. A week after that Estimates session came a media statement from the minister. I quote:

'Screen Tasmania has surveyed and identified a number of sites that could be used for studios, the most notable being the Inveresk Launceston site at the Exhibition Building' - said the minister. Good on the Minister for Economic Development. Tasmania is a small State, Mr President, and our natural resources are limited and vulnerable. We do not have the room for vast quarries like Western Australia. If we are to compete we have to use our own special resources: our beautiful environment and our people who have the capacity to be trained in sophisticated skills, especially technology, communications and creative specialisations.
A television, film and multimedia centre of excellence fits that to a T - T for Tasmania. The minister's media statement went on to speak of Tasmania's attractions and natural beauty as reasons for people to make films here. To quote:

'Our breathtaking wilderness, superb scenery and our natural cultural and built heritage make Tasmania an ideal place for films. Inveresk is an almost perfect location for a non-purpose-built studio because of its space, excellent aspect to the power grid, car parking and city access.'
Mr President, I could not have put it better myself. The chair of the budget estimates session, my honourable colleague, the member for Montgomery, referred to me as the multimedia guru. I hesitate to take that title after only my limited career in one aspect, broadcasting.

Mrs Smith - But you had success the previous year with Education and Health, if you remember. They followed your advice there too.

Mr FINCH - Thank you very much. Thank you, I did notice that.

Mrs Smith - An all-round guru.

Mr FINCH - That could be a special interest debate next week.

Mrs Smith - It could be.

Mr FINCH - Thank you. However, I would like to point out that a multimedia centre would be exactly that; it would have the potential to take in many facets of the media. One of the facets is one that is only now emerging as the news-gathering media takes yet another giant technological leap.

There is under way in the world, right at this moment, a big change in the way that news for television is gathered. Those big betacams on tripods we saw yesterday set up in the Chamber with the camera operator, sometimes with a sound man, sometimes with unsound sound men, and metal boxes of equipment are obsolete.
The cameras alone can cost up to $100 000. A camera less than a quarter of the size and an eighth of the weight, with more features, now costs $12 000. This equipment is proliferating in Europe, usually operated by young freelance news gatherers, almost always on the spot when things happen. It has changed the way that television news reports what is happening.

Not only can news be more easily recorded but materials recorded on the new compact digital cameras can be edited on a laptop computer and sent back to studios via satellite or mobile phones. But what is missing -
Mr Wilkinson - Sounds like a select committee to me.

Mr FINCH - I am coming to the rub here - but what is missing in most countries is proper training in the new news-gathering systems. Realising this -

Mr PRESIDENT - And what is also missing is time. The honourable member's time has expired.

Mr FINCH - the BBC has set up a new school in Newcastle in England. I am suggesting that we can do it here in Australia, in Tasmania, at Inveresk. Let us do it, Mr President.

Mr PRESIDENT - For the purpose of historical record in case future readers of Hansard judge the honourable member unfairly, I want to say that the interjections during his speech were prompted by what appears to be the early stages of laryngitis.