Federal Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan is calling for bi-partisan support to assist members of Independent Cinemas Australian (ICA) impacted by the pandemic.
With over 13,000 employees and experiencing a significant downturn in trade, Mr Conaghan says ICA members were among the first impacted by COVID-19 and will be the last to come out of the downturn.
He said a financial package would be comparable to that provided to the travel agent industry.
“Due to the pandemic, independent cinemas have been impacted quite seriously,” he said.
“ICA is not unlike travel agents and they should also receive a support package.
“The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has not shut the door on industry-specific support in the form of a continuation of JobKeeper support packages and I will certainly be calling for party room support.”
Mr Conaghan said the ICA is asking for $89 million in assistance to help cover the next six months.
The Cowper MP said he would also be speaking with his colleague across the floor of parliament for support.
Vice-president of ICA and local cinema operator Kieren Dell said independent cinemas are a key part of the entertainment landscape, especially in regional areas.
“They provide up to 90 percent of the box office for Australian movies,” he said.
“Cinemas need targeted support by way of a wage subsidy and/or grants to survive, with 50 percent of independent cinemas at risk of closing.
“Jobkeeper has been a saviour for the jobs of cinema staff, with over 40 senior staff and 100 casuals employed by Majestic Cinemas alone.”
Mr Conaghan said providing support for cinemas in regional areas would also have a positive impact on cafes, restaurants and hotels and clubs.
“Cinemas provide the foot traffic that creates atmosphere in and around our central business districts,” he added.