The delegation from the Games Developers Association of Australia (GDAA) were assured that the government, should it be returned to office at the November 24 election, would review the eligibility of games for the tax offset scheme currently provided to the film industry.

The promise was made by Senator George Brandis, Minister for Arts and Sports at a meeting with industry delegates on the 2 November. PALGN quoted GDAA CEO Greg Bondar as saying “Senator Brandis was most sympathetic to our concerns and also undertook to ensure that a review of GDAA’s call for a 40% tax rebate for the games industry in Australia would be undertaken if the Coalition was returned to government.”

The coalition government’s move to reassure the games industry comes two weeks after the industry delegation met with Labor communications shadow minister Senator Stephen Conroy, who also was ‘sympathetic’ to the games industry and promised to recommend that the GDAA get a seat at the review of the 40% tax rebate for the film industry, stating that it was time ‘to recognise the contribution of the games
industry to the Australian cultural landscape, and the conomy as a whole.’ (see press release on GDAA website)

It is fortunate for the GDAA in one sense that the upcoming election has provided the political competition necessary to generate such promises and expressions of support. Yet it also means that the issue may be given more attention (albeit pre-election) than it otherwise would have, and both political parties are being careful in the construction of their promises. Offering to recommend the association is given a seat at the table of a review of the tax rebates gives very little tangible support indeed. Post election of course, both parties are likely to give less attention to games than they are to inflationary pressures and the odd $50 billion plus of additional spending that they have promised. Even within the portfolio, expediting the roll-out of broadband is bound to be a much bigger funding issue.

Rather than go for the cultural angle, I wonder if it would have done the industry any better to approach the Department of Industry rather than Communications. AusIndustry and InvestAustralia have previously taken considerable interest in the games industry, but surely this path has been tried already.