Aussie Federal Government knocks back local games industry

Aussie game industry's call for assistance denied by federal government; games association starts petition to mobilise local support.

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Australia's peak game developers body is urging the locals to directly petition the federal government after its call for greater support for the industry was denied.

The Games Developers' Association of Australia (GDAA) had previously asked the government for a 40 percent investment rebate announced for the Australian film industry in this year's budget to be extended to the interactive entertainment sector. The GDAA, in its submission to Communication, Information Technology, and the Arts minister Senator Helen Coonan, specifically asked for the "immediate formation" of a working committee to examine the introduction of the rebate, as well as support for payroll tax incentives.

In a written response to the GDAA's submission, Senator Coonan reiterated that games producers would not be seeing the 40 percent rebate extended to their industry. "The Screen Media Support Package announced in the Budget has the potential to benefit screen content producers of all kinds. While games will not be eligible for the tax offsets announced as part of the Package, the introduction of a Location Offset is expected to have positive indirect flow-on effects for screen businesses, as digital and visual companies develop larger and more skilled workforces," the Minister's letter stated.

The GDAA is now asking the local games industry and individual gamers to lend their support via an online petition. The petition--which can be found on the GDAA's official Web site--includes a form letter/e-mail which can be used to send to Senator Coonan's office or to the sender's local federal member.

GDAA CEO Greg Bondar said the introduction of a rebate would have led to an additional A$25 million in new investment into Australian-developed titles. "We have been trying to bring our situation to the attention of Federal Government for a long time now and this sort of response is disheartening to say the least. The Minister is not offering anything tangible to our industry," he said.

Bondar told GameSpot AU the GDAA had also approached the federal opposition about introducing the 40 percent rebate should Labor win office at the next election. Opposition spokesman for Communications and Information Technology Senator Stephen Conroy has already met with GDAA representatives, with Bondar saying Conroy was "very sympathetic" to the game sector's calls. The GDAA has another meeting set up with Senator Conroy to further discuss the issue on October 19.

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