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Screen Australia names New Zealander as new boss

Screen Australia, the recently merged government body set up to fund local TV and film projects, has appointed New Zealand Film Commission CEO Ruth Harley as its new boss.

Harley is a surprise choice for the position in which she will oversee subsidies for the organisation, which is a combination of the Film Finance Corporation, the Australian Film Commission and Film Australia. Many expected a local choice, with Film Finance Corporation chief executive Brian Rosen the frontrunner for the position.

She has been appointed for a five-year term by Arts Minister Peter Garrett and will start in November. Harley was credited with boosting the New Zealand film industry by attracting A-list productions such as Lord of the Rings.

Screen Australia, which was officially formed last month, will receive A$103 million (US$96.1 million) in its first year to fund local productions such as ABC adult drama East of Everything and SBS’ local version of Wall to Wall format Who Do You Think You Are. It will be in charge of the new tax rebate system, which offers drama, kids and factual producers a rebate of up to 20% of production costs.