Joanne Yates' appointment as executive director of the Screen Producers Association of Australia (SPAA) suggests that the organisation wants to increase its political influence in Canberra, where many regulatory and funding decisions are made.

For the past five years Yates has been an advisor to the Democrats, a political party which paints itself as crucial in keeping the two major political forces honest. While working in Senator Vicki Bourne's office she advised on digital broadcasting and cross-media rules, and lobbied to defend public broadcasting, maintain telecommunications giant Telstra in public hands and uphold the Australian content rules.

Although she is leaving the rough and tumble world of politics in the nation's capital to take up the Sydney-based job with SPAA from October 2, she is likely to maintain a strong presence in the corridors of Parliament House.

"But we need more than government support," she said in a statement. "We also need support from the financiers of Australian feature films, the people who commission Australian TV content, and the advertising industry responsible for TVC production."