By Toby Crockford
Questions have been raised over the deal to bring Dora the Explorer to Queensland, after a Brisbane small business owner claims he lost $20,000 in takings because of street closures put in place during the filming of Thor: Ragnarok two years ago.
The state opposition, which has questioned the use of taxpayer funds in the Dora deal, said small business owners should not be left out of pocket as a result of Hollywood productions and called upon the Palaszczuk government to treat them with more respect.
Mark Prickett, owner of Bike Obsession in Mary Street, claims he was never offered any compensation and only discovered the street would be fenced off after seeing a “small” sign the day before the barriers were installed.
Mr Prickett said the street was closed to traffic at both ends and while it was still open to pedestrians, many were deterred by the large barriers.
He said the barriers were in place for two working weeks and believes his business lost an average of $10,000 per week in takings.
Mr Prickett said he was not able to send any staff on leave during the two weeks because he only found out about the closures the day before.
To make matters worse, the small business owner was battling prostate cancer at the time, but has since gone into remission.
“We (small business owners) are people with bills, kids and a mortgage to pay and houses on the line every day,” Mr Prickett said.
“I’m sure there are some people that win with these Hollywood films, but in my experience, it tends to be big business.
“I needed a few months’ notice to plan and get a fighting fund put away.
“It would have been nice if they said upfront ‘it’s going to hurt you, but here’s a compensation package and we’ll talk more afterwards’.
“I’m sure a small compensation package would be a drop in the ocean compared to what the deal was worth.”
LNP deputy leader Tim Mander criticised the Dora deal, describing it as “a taxpayer-funded distraction”.
“Queensland small business owners shouldn’t be left out of pocket while Hollywood billionaires enjoy taxpayer-funded subsidies,” he said.
“Annastacia Palaszczuk needs to accept responsibility for this business’ losses. She is quick to claim the credit but not any criticism.
“Instead of getting a selfie with Chris Hemsworth, she should be talking to small business owners.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the Queensland economy and the Labor government need to treat them with more respect.”
Questions were sent to the Premier’s office asking whether small businesses were taken into consideration during talks with Hollywood productions and whether support would be available to them if streets were closed to film the Dora the Explorer movie but they did not issue a response.
A Brisbane City Council spokeswoman said the onus was on the production company to liaise with affected businesses and minimise the impact of filming.
“As a New World City, Brisbane is well-set to capitalise on being a film destination and has experienced a doubling of film production over the past five years,” the spokeswoman said.
“As well as raising Brisbane’s international profile, Thor: Ragnarok injected more than $100 million into the city’s economy with CBD businesses receiving a direct boost in turnover.
“Council has not received a filming application for the Dora production at this time.
“It is a requirement of filming-related road closures that the production company liaises with affected businesses to minimise impacts on their operations.”
Source : The Brisbane Times