Dead men may tell no tales and Screen Queensland is determined to keep quiet about how much it paid for Disney to set course for Gold Coast studios.
The state government body crossed swords with the Information Commissioner at the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal on Wednesday, arguing it should be allowed to keep secret its business dealings over the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
The fight began two years ago when Glass Media Group executive producer Chris Boyd applied under the Right to Information Act for documents that disclosed Screen Queensland’s “incentive payment” to Disney.
Mr Boyd was given a one-page ministerial briefing with the payment amount redacted, something the Information Commissioner ruled was not acceptable.
The court heard it was only fair for the state to release the figure given the Australian federal government had freely divulged its $21.6 million contribution.
“I believe that the Queensland people should know how much money is gifted to US corporations to make feature films,” Mr Boyd said outside the hearing.
But chief executive Tracey Vieira said Queensland wanted to remain competitive.
“Queensland competes to attract international production, not just with other jurisdictions in Australia but really with jurisdictions around the world,” Ms Vieira told reporters.
“We don’t want to show our hand to the other states, much like they will not show their hand to us.”
Ms Vieira said the Pirates movie injected $220 million into the state’s economy and created 2142 local jobs.
The production also generated 161,000 bed nights, double the amount booked during the annual motor racing event Gold Coast 600.
It further turned the international media spotlight on Australia when Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce threatened to euthanase dogs belonging to Johnny Depp and then-wife Amber Heard, which they brought into the country illegally on a private jet.
“It’s time that Pistol and Boo buggered off back to the United States,” Mr Joyce said in May 2015.
As part of a court deal the couple apologised for their actions in a bizarre video statement that went viral.
Speaking at a press conference in Cairns, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she had no problem with the incentive payment figure being released eventually.
“I want to see more of that production happening, and we will be working with the movie industry to encourage that,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
Judge Suzanne Sheridan reserved her decision for a later date.