Dinner Diplomacy and beyond


A recent snap of Diwali Dinner catch up at Victorian Parliament of State Opposition Leader Hon. Matthew Guy, Former Ministerial Adviser Mr Nitin Gupta, AFL Ambassador Mr Aravind Putta—and few of their close friends went viral, and set the political rumour mills abuzz.

Prachi Panchal caught up with former Ministerial Adviser Mr Nitin Gupta to get his views on the latest community and political developments in Victoria, and other issues that matter.

Are you back in the Victorian Political Scene? What was the dinner at Victorian Parliament with State Opposition Leader Hon. Matthew Guy all about?

Well, this was a dinner arranged by my friend Aravind Putta. It was just a normal catch-up dinner leading up to Diwali. There are no political conclusions to draw from that Dinner—It was great to catch up with few of my close friends for Dinner with one of my former bosses after a long time. Yes—I also served as Ministerial Adviser under Hon. Matthew Guy for around three months in 2014.

For the past three years, I have been a politically neutral person when it comes to Australian and Victorian politics. I do regularly attend events including fundraisers events with both major political parties. I don’t support any single political party any more.

What were the topics discussed at the dinner?

It was just a normal catch-up dinner conversation covering various topics. We started from discussing taking AFL and Richmond Tigers to India; talked about politics back in India; Aravind raised some Cranbourne specific issues, and the controversial lamb ad by Meat and Livestock Australia; Nithya raised the issue of exclusion of South Indian actress Khushbu Sundar from the recent Victorian government funded Indian Film Festival of Melbourne; Darpan raised issues facing India Australia businesses… and so on.

Plus there were general discussions about Melbourne weather, significance of Diwali in Indian economics, and Indian history. It was a very light conversation, and there was not much politics on the menu.

“The way these projects progress, the lead times and returns on those existing investments would determine the future investments by Indian corporates in Australia”

Do you think that there would be an increase in Australian investments by big Indian corporate houses anytime soon?

I think that most Indian corporate houses are closely watching the progress of projects such as Wollongong Coal, and others where substantial investment has already been made by Indian companies.

The way these projects progress, the lead times and returns on those existing investments would determine the future investments by Indian corporates in Australia. Some positive messages need to go back to India about existing Indian investments in Australia for more future investments to follow.

About your friend Khushbu Sundar… would she still be interested in filming her next projects in and around Melbourne? What are the obstacles in attracting Indian producers to shoot in Victoria?

Khushbu is pretty keen on shooting her various future projects in Victoria. Not just films but also television serials and web series. During her recent trip to Melbourne I had taken her around places like Warnambool, Great Ocean Road, Cranbourne Botanic Gardens, Casey Fields Sports Complex, MCG, Punt Road Oval, RMIT University, Deakin University, Noble Park Swimming Pool, Hillsmeade Primary School, Alkira College, Wyndham Harbour, and various other locations, based on what she wanted to explore.

We also had a very good meeting with executives of Film Victoria. The issue is that current subsidies on offer for Indian film stakeholders to shoot in Victoria are not very attractive.

My understanding from that meeting is that currently there is no comprehensive “Film Treaty” in place, which would enable the Indian film stakeholders to get the “Producer’s off set” subsidy etc.

So currently let’s say if a Chinese film stakeholder shoots in Victoria then they could get a much bigger percentage of subsidy as there is a “film treaty” in a place with that country.

But countries like India and others, who are yet to formalise a film treaty, do not qualify for a greater subsidy. Hence there is very little incentive for Indian movie stakeholders to shoot here.

The film treaties take a long time to draft and get signed. The FTA between India and Australia is yet to be signed, despite Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting Australia back in November 2014. So I am not very optimistic about progress in signing of Film Treaty between India and Australia anytime soon.

The quicker way to attract Indian movie stakeholders to shoot in Victoria could be through project based political intervention and announcements of bigger subsidies with bi-partisan support.

To put it in simple words—you need to make it more attractive and easy for Indian film stakeholders to shoot here in terms of incentives on offer.


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