There are big questions over the budget priorities of the new Queensland government which has said it could not afford the $6 billion to upgrade the state's IT systems, axed 400 information technology contractors, yet provided $200,000 to the production company behind the TV programme Big Brother.
The funding for Big Brother is to assure that the reality show would return to the Gold Coast. The decision to fund the reality show came three months after the Newman Government scrapped the cash prize for the Literary Awards allocated through Screen Queensland, the state government's film development arm.
The Gold Coast Bulletin said the scrapping of the Literary Awards saved the state government $244,000. The Literary Awards will still push through minus the cash awards.
Queensland Arts Minister Ros Bates explained that it was the previous Bligh government that approved for the $200,000 grant to Big Brother, but admitted the contract was signed in July by the new state government. She said that the decision has too far progressed when it was submitted to her for review by the time she was appointed to her post.
She also defended the $200,000 funding for Big Brother which would create 300 jobs and bring in about 40,000 visitors to the Gold Coast when filming of the reality show starts and another 250,000 after filming finishes and the set opens to the public.
"This is a huge production and post-production employer. It's really important because it allows us to keep building a successful and vibrant film and television industry in Queensland," New.com.au quoted Ms Bates.
Support to Big Brother, which averaged more than one million viewers a night, was also provided by the previous Beattie Labor government when the show first aired in 2001. The funding was in the form of wage and tax rebates and government-sponsored interns.
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