Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has plundered a treasure chest of nearly 22 million taxpayer dollars set to lure their production to nearby shores, leading some to claim we have been swindled.
While lovers of the sword-and-swagger series may think it’s money well spent if they can spot the likes of Johnny Depp on the Gold Coast, rural doctors are asking whether the cash wouldn’t have delivered better results if spent on people’s health.
The good doctors say less than that amount would go a long way in attracting junior doctors to rural medical practice.
Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) president Dr Ian Kamerman said the group been asking the federal government for the continuation of a highly successful general practice placement program that attracted many young doctors into rural practice, only for them to say there isn’t enough money to fund it.
‘I enjoy Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean as much as the next person, but it is ridiculous to spend that sort of money to attract the production of a movie with one hand, while pulling money out of the health system with the other,’ Dr Kamerman said.
‘We were very disappointed to find that the Prevocational General Practice Placement Program had been scrapped in the federal health budget without prior consultation, and have been vocal in our requests for its reinstatement – but with no success to date,’ he added.
‘It is unfortunate to find that attracting doctors to the bush rates behind Dead Men Tell No Tales when it comes to funding decisions,’ Dr Kamerman said.
But, perhaps surprisingly, local film industry support group Screenworks has thrown its weight behind the move, saying much of the anticipated $100 million flow on creating 3,000 jobs could provide employment for northern rivers-based film workers.
Screenworks GM Ken Crouch said the group is looking to see what work will be available for its members.
‘It’s a great opportunity for screen workers in the region because a lot of people do travel to the Gold Coast to work. Whenever there is a major production there they have to draw a lot of crew from our region,’ he told ABC radio news.
But is it art?
The fifth instalment of the hugely popular series is set to become Australia’s largest ever feature film after funding was approved by Arts Minister Ian Walker.
Mr Walker said pre-production had already started on the Gold Coast and production would begin in February before moving to north Queensland.
Screen Queensland’s Tracey Vieira said they faced stiff competition from state rivals and Mexico before securing the deal with The Walt Disney Studios.
‘We are thrilled to see Pirates 5 sail into Queensland,’ she said in a statement.
Mr Walker was hopeful Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales would act as a rolling advertisement of the state’s capable cast, crew and facilities for future blockbusters.
‘It is one of those industries in which success breeds success.’
The full cast is yet to be announced but Johnny Depp is expected to cast his anchor in the Sunshine State at some stage before the film’s release in July 2017.
– with AAP