It was interesting listening to the critics’ reviews of the new Baz Luhrmann film Australia this morning.

Whilst the usual gushing artisans heralded a new era for Australian cinema, actor Brian Brown gave a swift reality check when he suggested that this is just another film that will have its place in the catalogue of Australian film.

Brown went on to say that he ‘hoped they get their money back.’

If Australia is not a spectacular success at the box office it would have to be a truly terrible film. After all, the Australian Tourism Commission is using it as the centrepiece of a $40 million global advertising splurge.

Now, making a movie for $180 million and then having the government spend nearly a quarter of that amount helping to promote it seems like a good deal to me – if you are a film maker that is.

But what about if you are a taxpayer still reeling from the failed ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’ campaign? Wouldn’t you be a little concerned?

I know I am.

Not because I am an expert on tourism, far from it, but spending that money trying to attract the US and UK holiday-makers during the worst economic conditions in over 70 years seems a little optimistic.

In the face of global deflation and recession, selling credit-crunched families on an Australian holiday would be like trying to steer an ocean liner with a Paddle Pop stick.

However, there is something else about this iconic Australian film that I am sure will remain untouched by the commentariat. That is the salaries of the stars and executives.

Kevin Rudd has launched a global war on the salaries of CEOs (something I don’t agree with) but hasn’t had much to say about the very healthy remuneration given to heroes (and heroines) of the silver screen.

Take, for example, our very own Nicole Kidman. In 2006 she was the highest paid female actor in the industry – receiving a reported $17 million for her role in The Invasion. Incidentally, Forbes reports that that movie lost $2.68 for every dollar that Kidman earned.

Is that a fair payment? Well, in my book it is because it was determined on a commercial basis between actor and producer and they wear the consequences of that decision accordingly. In principle, no different to the hiring of a star CEO by a company board.

Yet curiously the Rudd gang of global regulators only sees the latter as immoral and a threat to decency.

In the interests of consistency, if Rudd and Co are genuine in trying to cap what they perceive as excessive global executive remuneration (once again something I don’t agree with), perhaps he should extend his regulatory enthusiasm to the arts.

I wonder how the political left would respond to that?

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