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Monday, 18 March 2013
Page: 2301


Mr CHAMPION (Wakefield) (11:50): On behalf of the Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications, I seek leave to make a statement on the broadcast and media bills referred to the committee by the Selection Committee on 14 March 2013, in discharge of the committee's requirement to provide an advisory report on the bill and to present a copy of my statement.

Leave granted.

Mr CHAMPION: The statement relates to the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Convergence Review and Other Measures) Bill 2013, the Television Licence Fees Amendment Bill 2013, Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (News Media Diversity) Bill 2013, News Media (Self-regulation) Bill 2013, News Media (Self-regulation) (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2013 and the Public Interest Media Advocate Bill 2013. The committee this morning endorsed the content of this statement.

The bills were introduced into the House on 14 March 2013. The same day, following the recommendation of the House Selection Committee, the bills were referred to the Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications for consideration. The bills are a substantial package of legislation which would have a significant impact on Australia's media environment. The committee expects that the bills will be the subject of considerable discussion and debate in this chamber, in the Senate and in the community more broadly.

On 14 March, the bills were also referred to the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee for inquiry. In its referral, the Senate Selection of Bills Committee suggested 10 specific and one general source of evidence for an inquiry into the bill, as well as listing two months for a possible hearing. The committee also noted the appointment of the Joint Select Committee on Broadcasting Legislation to inquire into issues around the legislation. Both the Senate committee and the joint select committee are holding hearings today, televised on A-PAC and Sky. The Senate will hold another hearing tomorrow, and both committees may hold hearings in the immediate future.

Two inquiries being held concurrently can cause confusion with stakeholders, let alone members who are serving on more than one committee. A third inquiry is unlikely to add any further information to the two ongoing processes. In the meantime, a third inquiry would only treble—rather than double, which is already happening—the demands on the time and resources of experts, witnesses, government agencies and stakeholders.

On previous occasions, committees of the House have declined to inquire into bills where an inquiry was not felt to be warranted. On this occasion, given the comprehensive inquiry program put forward by the Senate Selection of Bills Committee, the likely resources that a single inquiry would demand and the triplication that would result from a parallel third inquiry, the committee has determined that a further inquiry is not necessary, and the committee therefore recommends that the House continue debating the legislation.