Going the extra nautical mile: how Australia captured Pirates 5

Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. The film has grossed more than US$1 billion worldwide.Movie session timesFull movies coverage

The Australian government has signalled it is willing to fight hard in the cut-throat world of movies, offering an unprecedented treasure chest to lure Pirates of the Caribbean 5 to our shores.

The hugely popular franchise will film its fifth instalment in Queensland from February 2015, after Walt Disney Studios accepted a $21.6 million bounty – originally earmarked for the same studio’s planned production of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – from Canberra, plus payroll tax exemptions from the state government, to choose the Sunshine State over close rival Mexico.

After the collapse of 20,000 Leagues, which David Fincher had been slated to direct, with Brad Pitt rumoured to star, Disney lobbied the federal government to have the $21.6 million transferred to Pirates 5. Last month, the government agreed to that request.

Federal arts minister George Brandis said the $21.6 million was the biggest contribution the government had ever made to the financing of a blockbuster, which is set to create at least 1000 jobs and pump $100 million into the economy.

“[This] will be the largest international feature film ever to shoot in Australia and will focus the world’s attention on Australia as a leading film destination,” he said. “Our investment in attracting the film to Australia will result in substantial benefits for the screen industry and economy.”

The wheeling and dealing to bring the film to Australia began in earnest in February, when Queensland Premier Campbell Newman met with Disney executives during a USA trade mission. Other states had also vied for a slice of the action.

The ink was still drying on the contract when Queensland’s Arts Minister Ian Walker called a media conference in Brisbane on Thursday morning to announce “We got it”.

“There was talk about this film going to other parts of the world, there was talk about this film coming to Australia but only partly done in Queensland,” he said. “That wasn’t good enough for me or for Screen Queensland, and so we’ve been negotiating and negotiating hard while the rumours were flying around to ensure that Queensland got this film and got it exclusively.”

Screen Queensland CEO Tracey Vieira began working on the deal in early March, not long after she started in the role, in order to convince producers the Gold Coast and far north Queensland locations could work both financially and creatively.

“Right down until a week ago it wasn’t just ours,” she said. “We faced strong competition from our state rivals, and also from Mexico.”

Ms Vieira said staff sent almost daily packages of potential shooting locations, and hosted key production staff on two separate scouting trips.

“The first one was four people who came out here… the production designer, art director, location manager and producer, and that was really about finding out whether creatively if it would work,” she said.

“Then there was a second scout that involved the directors, the visual effects designer, and the producer.”

Ms Viera and Mr Walker said commercial-in-confidence arrangements meant they could not specify the value of the payroll tax exemptions granted to Disney.

AusFilm, the industry-government partnership that lobbies moviemakers to shoot their films in Australia, said incentives were crucial to securing blockbusters, especially in light of the fact that California has finally agreed to offer tax incentives in order to keep more production in the state.

CEO Debra Richards said 2013/14 international productions The Moon and the Sun, Unbroken and San Andreas shot employed 6300 people across all states and brought in new inward investment of $150 million.

“The international film industry is highly competitive and without compelling incentives such as the Location Offset this production would not have considered Australia as a production destination,” she said.

“The filming of Pirates of the Caribbean will further enhance the international positioning of Australia as a world class filming destination.”

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David riding in aid of kids charity

GOOD CAUSE: Cootamundra’s David Moore is inviting people to sponsor him as he embarks on the Great Cycle Challenge. RIGHT now, cancer is the largest killer of children from disease in Australia.

There are countless stories across all forms of the media of young people with cancer and each story is just as devastating as the next.

Rather than hearing the stories and feeling bad for the families involved, Cootamundra’s David Moore has decided to take action.

He has joined the Great Cycle Challenge which raises funds for the Children’s Medical Research Institute.

The challenge allows riders across Australia to take on their own personal cycling challenge throughout the entire month of October.

David has set himself a goal of 1000 kilometres over the course of the month, which he is breaking up into small increments and getting a bit done each day.

“My daughter Kate has worked out it is only 33 kilometres per day so it is completely achievable!” David said.

“It will be tough but nothing compared to what these kids face every day of their lives as they battle this terrible disease,” he added.

When the opportunity to do something positive and proactive came up, David jumped at the chance to be involved.

“I have enjoyed good health and my kids have been fortunate enough to have good health; not everyone is so lucky so if I can put my good health to a good cause of course I’ll do it,” David said.

Thinking of his own two kids, Kate 21 and Brendan 17, David said seeing kids inhospital when they should be out and about enjoying themselves inspired him to take action.

“Kids should be living life, not fighting for it,” David said.

Over 600 Australian children are diagnosed with cancer every year and sadly, on average, three die every week.

Show your support for the cause bysponsoring David at www.greatcyclechallenge苏州美甲美睫培训学校.au/Riders/DavidMoore.

All donations are gratefully received and will go towards this great cause.

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Rylstone patient 300th to benefit from lifesaving heart program

A Rylstone patient was the 300th person statewide to benefit from a new program which aims to save people from dying of a heart attack.

The “Pre-hospital Lysis program” allows paramedics to send an ECG (a simple test that records electrical activity in the heart) directly to a cardiologist as soon as they suspect a heart attack.

This gives the patient immediate access to a specialist, so that a diagnosis can be made within minutes of the paramedics arriving.

If a heart attack is confirmed, paramedics can give immediate life-saving treatment (Lysis), wherever the patient may be.

The program has assisted 35 people in western NSW in the first six months of operation.

The “Pre-Hospital Lysis program” Western NSW Local Health District Cardiologist Dr Ruth Arnold said early diagnosis can improve the chance of recovery and survival in heart attack patients, which is especially important in rural and remote areas.

“Time is crucial when it comes to diagnosing and treating a heart attack successfully,” she said.

“Once a heart attack is confirmed by the ECG, the paramedics can provide appropriate treatment in the form of “lysis” or thrombolysis (clot busting medication to dissolve the blockage in the coronary artery), before the patient is transported to the best place for their further care and treatment.

Thrombolysis treatment involves dissolving the clot and opening up the heart artery, improving the chance that the person’s heart will remain normal and undamaged. This treatment is most effective if given within the first 60 minutes of a heart attack. In some rural areas it can take 30 to 60 minutes to even get a patient to the closest hospital.

This program makes each ambulance into a mobile coronary treatment unit and brings specialist care to the patient.

People are reminded that they should call Triple Zero immediately for an ambulance if they experience the following symptoms:

• Tightness, heaviness, pressure or pain in the chest, neck, jaw, back or arms;

• Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, especially if these symptoms come on quickly;

• Sweating, dizziness, nausea, or epigastric discomfort.

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Griswolds to play at Yours and Owls festival

The Griswolds will play at the sold-out Yours and Owls 4th Birthday Party festival on Saturday night.Constant touring can have unexpected consequences, says band member Chris Whitehall.

Chris Whitehallof the Griswoldsrealised the harsh realities of non-stop touring after being abandoned by his band in Brooklyn at 1am.

“We had just finished a gig at Rough Trade and I carried out the last thing as we were packing up,” he says. “I came back and the van was gone, they’d left me behind.”

The band was in the midst of a three-month touring stint of the United States when Whitehall found himself wandering the streets lost at 1am.

“I’ve got no idea where we’re staying or what to do,” he says. “My shoes exploded off my feet as I’m walking through Brooklyn. I’ve got no shoes, no band and nowhere to sleep.”

Luckily, Whitehall found some friends by chance in a bowling alley and was reunited with the band in the morning.

“It wasn’t the first time it’s happened and when you play 50 to 60 gigs in 3½ months, it becomes a game to try and remember which cities and venues we’ve played.”

The Griswolds’ mammoth tour came as a baptism of fire for the Sydney four piece.

They had only released two songs when US label Wind Up Records came knocking and this tour is first time they’ve played live with their current line-up.

“There was definitely a feeling of being out of our depth,” he says. “They were throwing contracts at us and we just closed our eyes and jumped in.”

The boys worked with famed indie producer Tony Hoffer in New York on their new album before hitting the road. The band had requested Hoff after admiring his efforts on Beck and Phoenix albums and had prepared themselves for a knock back.

“We thought there was no chance in hell he’d say yes but he did,” he says. “This guy was a hero of ours, he’s worked on our favourite albums, we were giddy when we met him.”

Whitehall describes him as “freaky genius” who became almost a favourite member of the band.

“He pushed us, he kept us up to 4am every night rewriting songs and challenging us,” he says.

Whitehall is excited about the band’s upcoming show in Wollongong.

“Playing regional dates is some of the most fun we’ve had. People just love music there and throw themselves into the gig,” he says.

The Griswolds will play at the sold-out Yours and Owls 4th Birthday Party festival on Saturday alongside Dune Rats, Sticky Fingers and Hockey Dad.

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Young Australians arrive to deliver aid message to politicians

More than 350 young Australians form the words End Poverty on the lawns in front of Parliament House. Photo: Jeffrey Chan Liz Rhodes takes a selfie of her and Darcy Lower as 350 young people get into formation to spell out their anti-poverty message. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

More than 350 passionate young people from around Australia rallied outside Parliament House on Thursday, condemning mooted cuts to foreign aid spending.

Responding to a report on Thursday that the Abbott government would cut aid funding to help pay for an Iraq military campaign and national security measures, the members of the Oaktree youth aid organisation said Australia should play a leadership role in ending poverty.

The demonstration, which included them spelling out the words “End Poverty”, was part of the organisation’s campaign to pressure governments to do more in the developing world.

Oaktree communications director Meg Brody said Australia should change its attitude towards its international responsibility.

“Australia has the opportunity to lead the world in ending poverty, instead we have seen cut after cut by this government,” Ms Brody said.

Volunteers have also been hitting the streets of Canberra, approaching residents and urging them to support the movement.

Oaktree head of campaigns Fiona Canny praised the efforts of those involved in the event, and was happy to see that young Australians were coming forward and having a voice.

“Today and this week highlights that young people are deeply committed to justice … There is something deeply inspiring about [it],” Ms Canny said.

Before the demonstration the group met Greens leader Christine Milne and other politicians. Ms Brody said they would attend more meetings with members of Parliament over the next few days.

“We have over 100 MP meetings lined up … It will provide the opportunity for young people from their electorate …to speak up,” Ms Brody said.

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