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Monday, 1 June 1998
Page: 4247

Mrs ELIZABETH GRACE (12:57 PM) —It is with great pleasure that I rise to support this report. By the time our committee was given the terms of reference, I had already received numerous complaints from my local business community—my hairdresser, the local jeweller, the snack bar and even the pre-loved book store. These businesses are all owner operated. They use their radios primarily to keep themselves informed of events and news items, and none was prepared to pay the licence fee demanded by the licensing groups.

The tone of the licensing organisation's literature was very threatening and this immediately made the business operators angry. All these business people felt intimated by the demand for payment. The fee was relatively low—less than $1 a week—but no-one was prepared to pay it because they perceived it to be a demand for something that they felt was their right.

There was also a perception of double dipping by the licensing company. The owners thought that as the radio station had already paid royalties to play the music, why should they, the businesses, have to pay again to listen to it on the radio. The concept of public performance was also poorly defined. Business owners did not consider that playing a radio in a shop workroom was a public performance. Their definition of a public performance was loud music blaring out of the local jeanery or a concert or performance at a hotel or in a club.

I must say that one of the unforeseen benefits of this inquiry has been the turning down—and even turning off—of some of the blaring music in the local stores in my Westfield shopping centre. I used to find it most disconcerting to walk through the centre and be confronted with different types of very loud music which seemed to come from every second shop.

This inquiry has been very successful. It has galvanised the industry to self-regulate and provided a sensible and workable suggestion for all those thousands of small business operators in Australia. It takes another regulatory burden off the shoulders of small business operators, and those who chose to do so can now listen to their radio without fear of the licence inspector.

I would like to thank the committee secretary, Claressa Surtees, and especially Natalie James, for all that they did to support this inquiry. I would like to congratulate APRA for the way in which they assisted us in coming to these recommendations. I commend the report to the House.