Australian writers back U.S. counterparts



SYDNEY -- Members of the Australian Writers Guild attended rallies across the country Wednesday in support of their striking colleagues at the Writers Guild of America.

"The issues facing the WGA directly affect us all. A show of support for our American colleagues is vital in their attempts to achieve a fair deal for all. This will set the precedent for new-media revenue shares for writers, actors and directors in the U.S., Australia and the rest of the world," AWG executive director Jacqueline Woodman said.

"The independent film and television industry in Australia needs to fight hard to preserve an Australian screen culture -- standing up for the principle of sharing the massive profits of multinational media conglomerates with the people who create the products they profit from is an essential part of that," she added.

About 50 people attended the rally in Sydney, including Oscar-nominated screenwriter Jan Sardi -- the writer of "Shine" and "The Notebook" -- and "Strictly Ballroom" and "Moulin Rouge" scribe Craig Pearce.

The rallies -- which also were held in Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide -- coincided with similar events in New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Britain, Mexico and France.

The AWG has warned its members not to take U.S. work. Woodman said when the strike started that "while strike-breaking to get work in Hollywood may be seen by some as a career opportunity or simply a short-term payday, taking work in America at this time would completely end any chance of a future U.S. career," noting that the WGA would bar a writer from future guild membership for strike-breaking.

However, she added that under Australia's trade union laws AWG cannot issue a strike instruction or discipline any members who defy the strike.