Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) (The Alliance) is the Australian trade union and professional organisation which covers the media, entertainment, sports and arts industries. Its 24,000 members include people working in TV, radio, theatre & film, cinemas, entertainment venues, recreation grounds, journalists, actors, dancers, sportspeople, cartoonists, photographers, orchestral & opera performers as well as people working in public relations, advertising, book publishing & website production; in fact everyone who works in the industries that inform or entertain Australians.

Full nameMedia, Entertainment & Arts Alliance
Members14,571 (as at 30 June 2019)[1]
AffiliationACTU, FIA
Key peoplePaul Murphy, Chief Executive
Office locationRedfern, New South Wales


The Alliance was created in 1992 through the merging of the unions covering actors, journalists and entertainment industry employees:

Since amalgamation, the Symphony Orchestra Musicians Association (SOMA) & the NSW Artworkers Union have joined the Alliance, a Professional Sports Branch has been created & the Screen Technicians Association of Australia (STAA) reconstituted itself under the Alliance banner.

In 2005 New Zealand Actors Equity (NZAE) affiliated to MEAA.[2]


The Alliance is affiliated with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), the International Federation of Actors and the International Federation of Journalists. It is a member of the Australian Copyright Council and is represented on all major training bodies catering for its members and State Labor Councils on behalf of its actors and other entertainment industry sections (excluding journalists) and in some states some sections are affiliated with the Australian Labor Party.

The Alliance is also a member of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, a global network of more than 70 non-governmental organisations that monitors press freedom and free expression violations worldwide.

The union is headed by CEO Paul Murphy who was appointed to the role in 2015.


The Alliance is trustee of the Walkley Award for Excellence in Journalism annually divided into individual categories. There are awards for the best entrant in each category, as well as the winner of the "Press photographer of the year", "Journalism Leadership Award" and the "Gold Walkley".

A foundation for performer members, the Equity Foundation was established to run professional development programs and a new series of Equity Awards for "Lifetime Achievement" and "Ensemble Casts".


MEAA and The Hobbit production in New Zealand

In September 2010, NZAE objected to contracts for actors in The Hobbit series planned for filming in New Zealand. MEAA notified the International Federation of Actors, which on 24 September 2010 issued a Do Not Work order for members worldwide. Producer Peter Jackson[3] and minister Chris Finlayson[4] claimed that New Zealand's Commerce Act 1986 made it illegal for the producers to engage in collective bargaining with NZAE on two grounds: first, that it represented independent contractors; and, second, that it was based outside New Zealand (being part of MEAA). The Screen Production and Development Association alleged that "MEAA/Equity has no legal status in New Zealand".[5] The independent-contractor assertions were called into question by the 2005 courtcase Bryson v Three Foot Six Ltd. A. F. Tyson noted that critics "frequently focuse[d] on the MEAA rather than the NZAE"[2]

On 20 October 2010, a Wellington meeting of NZAE was called off in the face of a protest planned by hundreds of film crew who feared The Hobbit production would relocate to Eastern Europe.[6] On 26 October Simon Whipp of NZAE was quoted as saying that he would feel no guilt if it relocated.[7] On 29 October the government rushed a bill amendmening the 1986 act through Parliament, overturning the 2005 decision by explicitly declaring all film workers to be independentcontractors.

Emails released in December 2010 by way of the Official Information Act showed that Jackson told the Government he did not believe an international actors' boycott would force The Hobbit overseas. The message, sent to the office of Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee on 18 October, contrasts comments the film-maker made earlier in the month.[8] A full list of the e-mails was released in February 2013 by the Ombudsman, at the request of Radio New Zealand and the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, despite resistance on the grounds of commercial sensitivity from the New Zealand Government and Wingnut Films.[9]

See also



  • Tyson, A. F. (2011). "A synopsis of the "Hobbit Dispute"" (PDF). New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations. 36 (3): 5–13. ISSN 1176-4716. Retrieved 2 July 2019.


  1. "MEAA annual report 2018-19". Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance. Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  2. Tyson p.13 note 1
  3. "Statement regarding The Hobbit and claims by MEAA". Peter Jackson. 27 September 2010.; Harper, Paul (1 October 2010). "Jackson: Fees to my actors 'fair', 'generous'". NZ Herald.
  4. "Govt shouldn't take sides on Hobbit - CTU". NZ Herald. 30 September 2010.
  5. "SPADA on Hobbit Battle" (Press release). SPADA. 28 September 2010.
  6. Wade, Amelia (21 October 2010). "Filming of The Hobbit moving overseas". NZ Herald.; Donnell, Hayden (21 October 2010). "NZ actors 'feeling misrepresented' by union". NZ Herald.
  7. Cheng, Derek (26 October 2010). "No decision yet in Hobbit talks - Key". NZ Herald.
  8. Cheng, Derek (21 December 2010). "Sir Peter: Actors no threat to Hobbit". NZ Herald.
  9. Ombudsman Decision In Hobbit Case Feb 2013 - Full Text
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