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Tuesday, 21 May 1985
Page: 2248


Senator GRIMES (Minister for Community Services)(5.08) —Employment within the SBS comes under the Public Service Act, therefore under the provision that applicants be citizens or that successful applicants be contracted for jobs pending citizenship. The ABC is not in that situation. The ABC Board, in its wisdom, tried to get the best person for the job-as I dare say the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation did when it got the same person. The vast majority of jobs in the ABC in fact go to Australian citizens. Only a few jobs have gone to people who are not Australian citizens and because they have been high level jobs it has caused a bit of a furore. Although I am not supposed to give personal views, I think it is an extreme example of chauvinism to suggest that we should limit employment in sensitive jobs purely to Australian citizens. I thought we would be after the best person for the job. Whether or not in the view of Senator Rae, me or anyone else the person selected is the best person for the job is a matter for judgment. I would have thought that to hamstring the ABC in the way suggested by Senator Rae would be a bit silly.

As to the remarks about Ms McCarthy and others, I will certainly seek from the ABC and the Minister for Communications (Mr Duffy) an answer to the questions on policy. I think it is important that we do have such answers. It is equally important that senators, in asking questions in Estimates committees, do not make imputations about people, such as the claim that Ms McCarthy's books were sold in the ABC bookshops and that she was getting royalties from that through the ABC. It could have been easily determined to be false, but it was thrown into the questions obviously in an attempt to discredit Ms McCarthy and the ABC. If we on this side are going to be responsible, I think there is an obligation for those on the other side to be responsible.