Earlier this year, the Australian Federal Government released a series of discussion papers addressing issues surrounding the future of Australian cultural policy as outlined in the National Cultural Policy and Convergence Review.
At the time, industry body Screen Australia provided its own discussion paper on the process, looking at enhancing the sustainability of Australia's game development industry through increased federal government funding. In the discussion paper, Screen Australia argued for the expansion of existing tax offsets, as well as the introduction of a new tax offset to assist with the production of games in Australia.
Last month, Federal Arts Minister Simon Crean announced his public support for increased government funding to the Aussie game development sector, claiming he would argue for an extension of the current producer offset--which allows for big-budget films like Happy Feet 2 and Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby to be made in Australia--to the games sector before the next federal budget.
Now, speaking to GameSpot Australia, Crean says he believes there is a strong case to be made for the extension of the tax rebate to games.
"There is strong creative talent in Australia, but the industry needs to be encouraged," Crean told GameSpot AU. "Games development is the growing extension of the entertainment industry and the interactive version of the film industry. We have a lot of creative talent in Australia in the games development field and are in an excellent position to capitalize on the growth that is expected in this industry in the future."
"Australian developers are recognized as some of the most innovative and successful at what they do--making new, original games that are played around the world."
Crean says it's important for local game developers to remain in Australia rather than being forced overseas by the lack of money and investment in the local games development sector.
"It's important that this highly skilled creative workforce stay in Australia to further our economy and build sustainable businesses. Over one-third of games industry workers counted in the last census in 2007 were artists and animators. The industry provides an important means for many artists to pursue their practice."
"There are social benefits of arts and culture and economic benefits that come from creativity and innovation. Games development represents both of these. One of the drivers of the National Cultural Policy is the need to be proactive in the digital environment and identify the role of government for the creative industries, including game developers."
According to Crean, the federal government is currently exploring how best to propose the extension of the producer offset tax rebate to games development and how this will be considered in the broader policy context.