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Tuesday, 3 May 1994
Page: 88

(Question No. 464)

Senator Alston asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 27 July 1993:

  (1) What action, if any has been taken by the Minister or his predecessors to adopt the recommendations of the House of Representatives Select Committee on the Print Media, March 1992, concerning amendments to the Trade Practices Act 1974 to improve competition and diversity in the Australian print media industry.

  (2) If no action has been taken: (a) why not; and (b) will any action be taken on this matter; if so, when and what action will be taken.

Senator Cook —The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

  (1) and (2) The Government's response to the Report of the House of Representatives Select Committee on the Print Media was tabled in the House of Representatives on 15 December 1993. Briefly, the Government's response indicates that:

  (a) the Trade Practices Act has been amended to prohibit mergers, including print media mergers, which substantially lessen competition;

  (b) the Government is currently considering the details of a system of pre-merger notification which would apply to all industries, including print media; and

  (c) the merger authorisation provisions of the Trade Practices Act are able to take account of public benefit factors in print media mergers, including free expression of opinion, fair and accurate presentation of news and economic viability of publications proposing to merge. Some modifications to the authorisation provisions were proposed in the Hilmer Report on "National Competition Policy" and these proposals are being considered by Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments.