Should Australian taxpayers subsidise Baz Luhrmann’s Gatsby movie?

The Great Gatsby is among two novels with a legitimate claim to being called the Great American Novel – the other being the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – so it’s surprising Baz Luhrmann is making his $120 million Gatsby adaptation in Sydney. Unfortunately, Australian taxpayers are subsidising this bizarre production, through both a tax offset:

Gatsby gets caught in row on film funding

and through a NSW Government film investment fund:

NSW incentives to attract Luhrmann’s Gatsby to remain confidential

It’s possible the tax offset is worth up to $40 million, and I’m guessing the NSW Government would have provided a couple of million dollars at least.

There may be a case for investing taxpayer dollars in movies that tell genuinely Australian stories (e.g. Picnic at Hanging Rock, Sunday Too Far Away), but using taxpayer dollars to subsidise a big budget production of a quintessentially American story is a complete waste of money.

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