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Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Page: 1980

Mr ALBANESE (GrayndlerLeader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (18:15): I thank the shadow minister and the member for Lyne for their contributions. However, I do want to respond briefly to a couple of comments that have been made. To the member for Lyne on the 75 per cent rule, in moving this resolution I have made it clear, as did the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy in his announcement yesterday, that if there can be a consensus gained by the committee then the 75 per cent rule could be included in the general package of media reform legislation. That is one of the reasons why we have sought to establish this committee in a timely fashion and why I have brought forward this resolution to establish the committee here. The fact is that there were changes to the way in which the free-to-air networks had put forward their position during this process, a change to the advocacy that had been put forward to the parliament, I assume including to the member for Lyne, to members of the opposition and to members of the government. What this is designed to do is establish a process so that if there can be a clear resolution on a way forward then it can be dealt with as a part of this package of reforms. That is certainly the government's intention.

With regard to the issues raised by the member for Wentworth, I say with respect to the member for Wentworth that, with regard to the positions, if he has differences with elements of this package, at least advocate on the basis of what they actually are rather than on the basis of what some have interpreted or deliberately misled people to believe them to be. With regard to regulation, the model that is in the legislation that will be brought forward tomorrow is a model of self-regulation by the industry, funded by the industry. That is what has been put forward in the processes that have been established. There has been the Convergence Review, the Finkelstein inquiry and considerable public debate on this. The minister made his announcement with regard to the determination—and this relates to the question of the member for Lyne of, 'What next if they don't agree?'—and then it will be up to this parliament to determine its response. It is as simple as that. But one of the things that we have made clear is that, in terms of the public interest test, if there is not agreement by this parliament in the next fortnight, what we are not going to do is spend the entire period in the lead-up to the budget, and post budget, dealing with this issue. It will not be pursued. That is a reasonable position, in my view, for the government to take—that is, to be up-front about what the decision-making process is. And part of that process, as announced by the minister yesterday, is the establishment of this committee in good faith. I commend the motion to the House.

Question agreed to.