Film, theatre and television workers say the proposed free trade agreement trades away Australia’s cultural future.

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Their union, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, says under the proposal, future Australian governments would not be allowed to promote and support Australian culture with any new measures.

The alliance’s Federal Secretary, Chris Warren, told the rally at the Sydney Opera House, cultural industries must not be traded off for agricultural products or some other gain.

“Cultural industries stand and fall on their own and should be treated on their own. And that’s why we believe it is critical that the Australian government sustain the position it’s been taking to date and that is to exempt cultural and media industries from any free trade agreement so that we remain now and in the future free to be Australian.”

Negotiations with the US are due to recommence late this month and Mr Warren says the US Government is pushing for a backdown by Australia, to include media industries in the agreement.

The actor, John Howard, borrowed from the theme of a pre-election speech by his namesake, the Prime Minister, who said the Government will decide who comes to Australia.

The actor said only Australians can produce, promote and protect their stories, language and music.

“And that’s why we need our government to say to the United States of America firmly, loudly and clearly, as they have said on other issues, ‘We will decide what stories may come into our country and how many may come and in what form they come forever and ever, amen.”

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