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Wednesday, 28 March 2001
Page: 23265


Senator Mark Bishop asked the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, upon notice, on 8 January 2001:

(1) How many casual staff have been employed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in Brisbane in both its Local Radio and News and Current Affairs Divisions since 1 January 2000.

(2) How many of the casual staff, referred to in (1) above, have been employed in that capacity for a period of more than: (a) 3 months; and (b) 6 months.

(3) In each of the previous 3 years, how many casual staff had been employed for a period of more than: (a) 3 months; and (b) 6 months.

(4) What approvals, if any, are required before casual staff can be employed for a period of more than: (a) 3 months; and (b) 6 months.

(5) Have all relevant approvals been made in respect of all casual staff employed since 1 January 2000, for a period of more than: (a) 3 months and (b) 6 months; if so, who is the designated officer for such approvals; if not, why not.

(6) What is the normal source of funds used to pay the wages and related employment costs for all casual staff employed since 1 January 2000.

(7) Have any other funds been used to pay the wages and related employer costs for all casual staff employed since 1 January 2000.

(8) Has the News and Current Affairs Division in Brisbane used the services of an ABC television film crew from anywhere outside of Brisbane, since 1 July 2000; if so on each occasion:

(a) on what date or dates did the film crew travel to, stay in and travel from Brisbane;

(b) why was the film crew brought from interstate and why was a Brisbane film crew not used;

(c) what was the additional cost incurred in bringing and maintaining the film crew in Brisbane;

(d) how many members comprised the film crew;

(e) did the film crew bring any equipment with them; if so, what additional cost was incurred in transporting that equipment to and from Brisbane;

(f) were any penalty rates or additional allowances paid to the film crew while they were in Brisbane; if so, what was the total cost of them;

(g) what part of the ABC paid for the additional expenditure associated with the film crew being in Brisbane; and

(h) who authorised this additional expenditure.

(9)(a) How many `non-police' re-enactments have been conducted by the television News and Current Affairs Division in Brisbane since 1 July 2000; and (b) to what events did those re-enactments relate.

(10) Did the Head of News and Current Affairs authorise each and every one of those re-enactments as required in paragraph 4.8.1 of the ABC's editorial policies, dated April 1998; if not, why not.


Senator Alston (Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) Between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2000, the ABC has employed a total of 37 casuals in Local Radio and News and Current Affairs in Brisbane: 13 in Local Radio and 24 in News and Current Affairs.

(2) Of those referred to in (1) above:

(a) 9 casuals (5 in Local Radio, 4 in News and Current Affairs) have been employed for at least one shift or part thereof per month over a period of more than 3 months and up to 6 months; and

(b) 7 casuals (3 in Local Radio, 4 in News and Current Affairs) have been employed for at least one shift or part thereof per month over a period of more than 6 months.

(3) The table below shows the number of casual staff employed in Brisbane in Local Radio and News and Current Affairs for at least one shift or part thereof per month over periods of (a) more than three months and up to 6 months; and (b) more than 6 months in the years 1999 and 1998. The ABC is unable to provide figures for 1997, as the relevant data for 1997 and earlier years are not available in an electronic format.

(a) More than 3 months and up to 6 months

(b) More than 6 months

Local Radio

News & Current Affairs

Local Radio + News & Current Affairs

Local Radio

News & Current Affairs

Local Radio + News & Current Affairs

1999

3

4

7

2

7

9

1998

1

5

6

1

5

6

(4) Engagement of casual staff, for whatever period, requires initial approval by the relevant delegate.

Under the heading “Period of Assignment”, the casual engagement form states:

“Personnel will contact you when the casual has been assigned to your section. If the period is to be extended and no other details are to change, advise personnel to extend the assignment period. The period may be adjusted if Personnel receive advice that the casual is also working in a different section.”

The department's roster authoriser approves the casual's employment for each fortnight.

(5) Yes. See response to (4).

(6) Casual staff are used in Brisbane Local Radio and News and Current Affairs to backfill behind temporary vacancies, which may result from staff being released on assignment to other areas, leave (sick, recreation, etc.), training, News and Current Affairs production peaks (e.g. East Timor), special projects and vacant positions (until permanent appointments are made).

The wages and employment costs for casual staff employed in Brisbane since 1 January 2000 are normally funded from the relevant division's annual operating budget. The General Salaries budget has been used to fund casuals for vacancies in Brisbane Local Radio and News and Current Affairs.

(7) No.

(8) The ABC's News and Current Affairs division in Brisbane has not used the services of an ABC television news crew from outside Brisbane since July 1, 2000. Occasionally, local freelance camera operators are hired to complement ABC crewing resources.

(9)(a) There have been 5 `non-police' television re-enactments conducted by the News and Current Affairs Division in Brisbane since 1 July 2000.

(9)(b) The 7.30 Report has commissioned three re-enactments:

· On 29 September 2000, an ABC camera operator shot a sequence of someone filling out electoral enrolment forms. This was to illustrate how enrolment forms are filled out fraudulently.

· On 30 October 2000, an ABC camera operator shot a re-enactment of a young boy taking mail from a letter box.

· On the weekend of the 25 and 26 November, a Brisbane freelance camera operator shot a re-enactment using Lee Birmingham with an envelope containing $50 notes. A freelancer was used because a local crew was not available.

Two of the three 7.30 Report re-enactments related to evidence given by different witnesses before the Shepherdson Inquiry into electoral fraud in Queensland. The third involving Mr Bermingham relates to his allegation, reported by the 7.30 Report, that he delivered money during the 1996 election campaign to the campaign manager for the Democrats in the seat of Lilley.

Australian Story has filmed two re-enactments.

· One involved Nigel Reed re-creating his walk for charity to mark his daughter's death from cystic fibrosis. The program was broadcast on 9 November 2000.

· The other involved Mike O'Dwyer, an inventor, re-enacting a test of his sport shoes, which keep feet cool. This was broadcast on 31August 2000.

(10) Permission from the Director of News and Current Affairs to film and broadcast these re-enactments was not required as 7.30 Report and Australian Story are current affairs programs. As stipulated in section 4.8.1 of the ABC's Editorial Policies (April 1998), authorisation from the Director of News and Current Affairs to use `non-police' re-enactments is only required for News programs.